Why We Need Change

First, you must understand a very IMPORTANT NUMBER.  According to the MHSAA, 14% of member schools are private schools.  That makes the following numbers proof positive that there is an unequal playing field in MHSAA tournaments.  If you think the MHSAA should change the playoff structure, sign the new petition.

All Sports

  • Since 2000, 30% of all state titles were won by private schools.  That is more than twice as many titles as they should have won statistically.
  • Since 2000, 42% of state titles in the bottom half of divisions (based on enrollment) were won by private schools.  That is three times more titles than they should have won statistically.
  • These numbers indicate that private schools have some sort of advantage that public schools don’t have, and therefore the MHSAA needs to consider more than enrollment in pairing up schools for the playoffs.

Fall Sports

Boy’s Cross Country (Lower Peninsula)

  • Since 2000, 13% of state titles were won by private schools. In only 5 of 28 sports did the private schools win less than the number of state titles than they should have statistically.

Girl’s Cross Country (Lower Peninsula)

  • Since 2000, 25% of state titles were won by private schools.

Football

  • Since 2000, 40% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • The divide between public and private schools is getting worse. Since 2011, private schools have won 53% of the state titles!
  •  Of teams with 5 or more state titles, 7 of the 13 are private schools.  Those 7 teams have 62 state titles between them.
  •  Lopsided contests between private and public schools are not uncommon.  Two of the biggest blowouts in state finals history have been private schools thrashing public schools.  In the 2001 D5 title game, Jackson Lumen Christi beat an undefeated Livonia Clarenceville team 49-0.  In the 2011 D7 title game, Saginaw Nouvel led an undefeated Pewamo-Westphalia team 56-12 at half time!  In 2014 Warren DeLaSalle beat Muskegon Mona Shores 44-8.
  • Private schools can still be successful playing against larger schools.  In 2003, the private school Detroit DePorres won the Division 8 State Championship.  They had an enrollment of 248 students.  During the regular season they beat the eventual Division 1 State Champion Detroit Catholic Central 33-27.  Detroit Catholic Central had an enrollment of 1,996 students.

Girl’s Golf ( Lower Peninsula)

  • Since 2000, 24% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Since a 4th division was created in 2009, private schools have won 6 of 8 state titles in that division.

Boy’s Soccer

  • Since 2000, 56% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won the last 8 state titles in Division 3.
  • Private schools have won 12 of the last 13 state titles in Division 4.  The one public school winner was a public charter school.  In fact, in the past 11 years, that pubic charter school was the only public school to even appear in the state finals in Division 4.

Boy’s Tennis

  • Since 2000, 41% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won the last 9 Division 3 titles.
  • Private schools have won the last 8 Division 4 titles.

Volleyball

  • Since 2000, 39% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won 11 of the last 13 class D state titles. Eight of the 11 were won in 3 sets.

Winter Sports

Boy’s Basketball

  • Since 2000, 31% of state titles were won by private schools.

Girl’s Basketball

  • Since 2000, 42% of state titles were won by private schools.

Boy’s Bowling

  • Since 2000, 17% of state titles were won by private schools.

Girl’s Bowling

  • Since 2000, 0% of state titles were won by private schools.  In only 5 of 28 sports did the private schools win less than the number of state titles than they should have statistically.

Competitive Cheer

  • Since 2000, 7% of state titles were won by private schools.  In only 5 of 28 sports did the private schools win less than the number of state titles than they should have statistically.
  • A private school has won Division 3, the smallest division, each of the past 3 years.

Girl’s Gymnastics

  • Since gymnastics only has 1 division in the upper peninsula and 1 in the lower peninsula, and since multiple schools combine to have a program, gymnastics statistics were not included.

Hockey

  • Since 2000, 54% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • In the smallest division, division 3, private schools have won 13 of the last 17 state titles.

Boy’s Skiing

  • Since 2000, 3% of state titles were won by private schools.  In only 5 of 28 sports did the private schools win less than the number of state titles than they should have statistically.

Girl’s Skiing

  • Since 2000, 17% of state titles were won by private schools.

Boy’s Swimming & Diving (Lower Peninsula)

  • Since 2000, 19% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won the Division 1 and Division 3 titles in each of the past three years.

Girl’s Swimming & Diving (Lower Peninsula)

  • Since 2000, 30% of state titles were won by private schools.

Wrestling

  • Since 2000, 6% of state titles were won by private schools. In only 5 of 28 sports did the private schools win less than the number of state titles than they should have statistically.

Spring Sports

Baseball

  • Since 2000, 40% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • In 2016 private schools won all 4 state titles.
  • Private schools have won the last 6 Division 3 state titles.

Boy’s Golf (Lower Peninsula) 

  • Since 2000, 41% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won 10 of the last 12 Division 4 titles.

Girl’s Golf (Lower Peninsula) 

  • Since 2000, 26% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won the last 3 Division 4 titles.

Boy’s Lacrosse

  • Since 2005, 75% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • A private school has won all 12 of the Lacrosse state titles in Division 1.

Girl’s Lacrosse

  • Since 2005, 21% of state titles were won by private schools.

Girl’s Soccer

  • Since 2000, 53% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won the last 15 Division 3 state titles.
  • Private schools have won the last 7 Division 4 state titles.

Softball

  • Since 2000, 22% of state titles were won by private schools.

Girl’s Tennis

  • Since 2000, 43% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won 11 of the last 12 titles in Division 3.
  • Private schools have won 14 of the 16 titles in Division 4.
  • Since 2000, public schools have only appeared in the finals 5 times in Division 4.

Boy’s Track & Field

  • Since 2000, 16% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Since 2000, 16% of state titles were won by private schools.

Sources: The MHSAA

Double check my math on the Raw Data page.

 

How States Institute Competitive Balance.

    • Some states separate public and private schools for the playoffs.  Virginia, Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland all have some form of separate playoffs for public and private schools.
    • Some states have a multiplier.  Private schools, or other schools with similar advantages, could have their enrollment increased.  This would keep public schools and private school playing each other, but most private schools and some public schools would have to play in higher divisions.  Arkansas (1.75), Georgia (1.5), Illinois (1.65), Missouri (1.35), and Ohio have multipliers for the playoffs.  The number in the parenthesis represents the number that you multiply the school’s enrollment number by. Click on the state to learn more.
    • At least one state, Indiana, reclassifies teams based on past tournament success.
    • At least one state, Oregon, reduces enrollment by .25 for each student on free and reduced lunch..

Why we shouldn’t get caught up in the “why.”

Too often when we discuss why private schools are winning 2 to 3 times as many state titles as they should statistically, the debate becomes personal and people chime in with their anecdotal evidence.  The most common complaint I hear from supporters of playoff fairness is that private schools recruit, and private school parent can afford pricey summer camps and private lessons.  The most common defense I hear from those who want to keep things status quo, often people association with private schools, is that this is just “sour grapes” and that teams that don’t win titles need to get better coaches and get their players to work harder.  Those statements are often insulting depending on whose ears they fall on.  In reality, there are a lot of reasons that this imbalance has occurred.  The “why” is disputable, the fact that an imbalance is occurring is not. Therefore, the “why” distracts us from the “what.”  What are we going to do about this?  Those of us that support a fair system need to spend our energy lobbying the MHSAA, and member schools, informing the public, and encouraging the coaches association and other entities to join us on this journey.  If you want to help, consider becoming a local advocate. Minimally, consider signing our petition.

Why This Is Not “Sour Grapes.”

Yes, I was a public school football coach.  However, in 18 years of coaching I did not coach against a private school.  In high school, I only played one regular season game against a private school.  So this agenda isn’t a personal one.  I’m just a guy who hates to see injustice in the world.  Yea, I’m an idealist.  I know the world isn’t fair.  However, I believe high school athletics should be as fair as we can make it.  Even if the playoffs are equalized, fifty percent of the teams will still have a losing record and experience the sting of defeat more often than the thrill of victory.  Plenty of life long lessons will still be learned.  This won’t make Michigan kids soft.  It will simply give public school kids an equal opportunity to both get to the finals, and win once they are there.  I look forward to an intelligent debate on the subject.  Please save any insults for another place and another time.  I’m also a strong believer in civility and sportsmanship.

Chad Phillips