Changing the Kansas State High School Activities Association is more about Hope than Change. You’ve got a better chance of quickly turning the Titanic to avoid the iceberg than you do of getting the KSHSAA to implement change. But we can hope.
Sub-State basketball tournaments begin this next week. There are flaws. Kansas has too many classes. The KSHSAA has approved classifications in 6A, 5A, 4A Div I and 4A Div II, 3A, 2A, 1A Div.I and 1A Div II. That’s eight championship trophies to hand out. Can we afford that much hardware? Seriously, that’s way too many classes for a state as small as Kansas.
You cannot eliminate all disparity in school size. Many times that is the appealing part of tournament play. The David versus Goliath aspect. Keep it alive Kansas! Winning a state championship should be difficult. It’s not a good thing to try top legislate that much fairness.
The other thing that needs correction is the entire Sub-State seeding process. Under the current setup it is too easy for a mediocre team to make it to the state tournament while a more worthy team is left out simply because they happened to be in the same Sub-State with another “loaded” team.
One need to look no further than the Boys Sub-State at St.John. It includes Central Plains and their glittering 20-0 record. It also includes defending state champion St.John with a 16-3 slate. All three of those losses were close and came at the hands of Central Plains. One of them will stay home from state tournament play. In reality, they are both worthy and would probably meet in the state championship game.
The same is true of the Boys 3A Sub-State at Norton which includes 16-3 TMP and 17-3 Norton. A state-worthy team is going to sit at home while some team with a near .500 record from another Sub-State will make it to state tournament play.
How do you fix these problems. Easy. Set up state tournament brackets with each class having room for an at-large team, or two, that would be selected by a committee-that would hopefully include athletic directors-that would receive an invite to the state tournament after being “upset” in Sub-State play. In the scenario that I am describing not only would the winner of the St.John Sub-State make it to the state tournament, so too would the loser of that championship game.
That very situation happened in 1950, when the Larned boys won their one, and only, state championship. They were upset in the Regional finals by Hays High, a team they had beaten two times earlier in the season. In those years the KSHSAA operated with each bracket issuing two “at-large” invitations. Larned received one of them and went on to win their championship. It made sense then and it makes sense now.
Hope and change. We’re hoping but the change is slow to come!