Playoff format, other tweaks needed by MHSAA

Published 11:10 am Thursday, April 26, 2012

Forrest Gump artfully put it best: “Sometimes people do things that don’t make no sense.”

That describes decisions made by the Mississippi High School Activities Association in recent years.

One of those is the persistence of the wasteful format of the three-game series in the baseball playoffs.

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Sure, it’s nice for each team to get at least one home game and, in some cases, such as the upcoming Warren Central-Northwest Rankin series, it’s manageable from a travel standpoint.

But for series such as Clinton-South Panola, Terry-Gulfport and Harrison Central-Brandon, expect to log some serious miles in the school bus.

In the case of Clinton and South Panola, that’s a 306-mile round trip. With most school buses averaging around 8 miles per gallon and diesel fuel costing a cent or two under $4, that adds up quickly.

One solution that would please the at-least-one-home-game crowd would be to reconfigure the bracket after the opening round, taking into consideration travel distances. But that’s not a catch-all solution. It’s very likely that someone would still be in for a long bus ride. And a school bus ride is anything but the lap of luxury.

A better idea would be for the lower-seeded team to host Game 1 and have the higher-seed host Games 2 and 3, if necessary, in a doubleheader. In a full three-game series, that cuts out one bus ride for one team and still rewards the higher-seeded team for its regular-season accomplishments.

Softball does it, and it works fine. Why not baseball?

Speaking of seeding, the decision by the MHSAA legislative council on a proposal to give home field to the higher-seeded team in the football playoffs was rejected again April 12. Instead, the team with the least number of home playoff games will host.

What sense does this make? It renders the regular-season almost irrelevant. Why win a division title when it means nothing come playoff time? Why shouldn’t teams — who’ve hosted lots of playoff games in recent years — rest starters when second or third place is clinched?

It’s almost as if this rule were aimed at the dominant football powers in the state to keep them from monopolizing home playoff games. There’s an easy solution to that: beat them in the regular season and win division titles. Using the rulebook to do it is pathetic.

As for basketball, the whole concept of the state playoffs is ridiculous. The whole thing should be single-elimination, all the way, with none of this double-elimination nonsense in the North and South state tournaments.

The MHSAA gets a lot of things right. But there’s always room for improvement.

Steve Wilson is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. You can follow him on Twitter at vpsportseditor. He can be reached at 601-636-4545, ext. 142 or at