Defining the Problem

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 Fair Playoffs Petition, or better yet, get your school board to pass the Fair Playoffs Resolution.

All Sports (Data inclusive of the winter 2018 sports season)

  • 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. Private schools won 44% of the state titles in the lowest division in each sport.
  • Since 2000, the highest percentage of titles won by private schools was 41% in 2017.
  • 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, 14% of state titles were won by private schools.  This is the number they statistically should win based on the percentage of private schools in the state.

Girl’s Cross Country (Lower Peninsula)

  • Since 2000, 26% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • A private school has won the last 3 Division 4 championships.

Football

  • Since 2000, 41% 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 since 2000, 6 of the 9 are private schools.  Those 6 teams have 35 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, 25% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Since a 4th division was created in 2009, private schools have won 6 of 9 state titles in that division.

Boy’s Soccer

  • Since 2000, 57% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won the last 9 state titles in Division 3.
  • Private schools have won 13 of the last 14 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.

Girl’s Swimming & Diving (Lower Peninsula)

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

Boy’s Tennis

  • Since 2000, 41% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won the last 10 Division 3 titles.
  • Private schools have won the last 9 Division 4 titles.

Volleyball

  • Since 2000, 39% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won 11 of the last 12 class D state titles. Nine of the 12 were won in 3 sets.

Winter Sports

Boy’s Basketball

  • Since 2000, 29% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • In Class D, private schools have won 10 of the last 19 championships.

Girl’s Basketball

  • Since 2000, 42% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • In Class B, private schools have won 14 of the last 18 championships.

Boy’s Bowling

  • Since 2000, 15% of state titles were won by private schools.

Girl’s Bowling

  • Since 2000, 0% of state titles were won by private schools.  In only 4 of 28 sports did the private schools win less than the number of state titles than they should have statistically.

Competitive Cheer

  • Since 2000, 9% of state titles were won by private schools. In only 4 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 in each of the past 5 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, 53% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • In the smallest division, division 3, private schools have won 15 of the last 19 state titles.

Boy’s Skiing

  • Since 2000, 3% of state titles were won by private schools.  In only 4 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, 15% of state titles were won by private schools.

Boy’s Swimming & Diving (Lower Peninsula)

  • Since 2000, 22% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won the  Division 3 titles in each of the past five years.s.

Wrestling

  • Since 2000, 8% of state titles were won by private schools. In only 4 of 28 sports did the private schools win less than the number of state titles than they should have statistically.
  • The only private school to have won a wrestling title since 2000, is Detroit Catholic Central who has won 5 titles. In 2018, they beat Brighton 57 to -1.

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 7 Division 3 state titles.

Boy’s Golf (Lower Peninsula) 

  • Since 2000, 43% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won 11 of the last 13 Division 4 titles.

Girl’s Golf (Lower Peninsula) 

  • Since 2000, 28% of state titles were won by private schools.

Boy’s Lacrosse

  • Since 2005, 73% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • A private school has won all 13 of the Lacrosse state titles in Division 1.

Girl’s Lacrosse

  • Since 2005, 23% of state titles were won by private schools.

Girl’s Soccer

  • Since 2000, 54% of state titles were won by private schools.
  • Private schools have won the last 16 Division 3 state titles.
  • Private schools have won the last 8 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 12 of the last 13 titles in Division 3.
  • Private schools have won 15 of the 14 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, 15% of state titles were won by private schools.

Girl’s Track & Field

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

Sources: The MHSAA

Double check my math on the Raw Data page.

 

9 thoughts on “Defining the Problem

  1. I think a more proper context would be to assess the most current system which has been in place since 1999. That’s where the MHSAA has evolved to, and “lives” today. It’s a nice sample size, and it is the relevant format and time period.

    You say: Of teams with 8 or more state finals appearances, 7 of the 11 (63%) are private schools.

    I respond: Since 1999, there have been 144 Finals Appearances by public school teams, and 64 by Private school team. Of the teams with repeat trips to the finals, 15 are private, and 30 are public. Of teams with 3 or more trips, 9 are private, and 14 are public. Four or more, it’s 7 public, 6 private.

    You say: Of teams with 5 or more state titles, 6 of the 10 (60%) are private schools.

    I respond: Since 1999, 67 State Championships have been won by 41 public schools. In that same time, 37 State Championships have been won by 16 private schools.

    You say: In the 2011 state finals, private schools won 4 of the 8 championships. One of the other 4 titles was won by a magnet school.

    I respond: One year as a single data point is statistically irrelevant. 2011 as your cited example is clearly a “cherry picked” data point to try to bolster your argument. Check the same data for 2004 and 2007. Seven of the eight titles were won by public schools in those years. In 2006, public schools won six of eight.

    You say: 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!

    I respond: Two lopsided victories are statistically irrelevant. There are some amount of blowouts regardless of participants. Public schools get blown out by public schools too. Further, just this year, Cass Tech led Catholic Central 49-7 at one point. Margins of victory can be deceiving.

    You say: Private schools dominate more than the tournament. If you look at the top 25 schools since 1950, who have played at least 100 games, 32% are private schools. However, schools can choose who they want to play in the regular season.

    I respond: Regular season schedules, particularly dating back 61 years, are irrelevant. These schedules consist of mostly “league” games, and fewer games where public schools play against private schools. The MHSAA rules as we know them today were not even in existence for a majority of that time frame, and neither was the MHSAA itself.

    • Since MHSSA won’t allow access to real statistics one needs to make stronger arguments, these discussions are based on the best info available. As a former Superintendent of a Class C school who had parochial schools in our neighborhood recruiting off of our teams, ALL OF THE TIME, I am also upset they aren’t weighted. I think the bigger issue is the Class C and D schools. They are the ones who cannot compete – the Class A and B have a better chance. Another BIG statistic is the number of public schools the parochials “knock off” if they don’t win the championship. I bet those numbers are alarming… It’s time to level the playing field…

      • What statistics would you like to see that the MHSAA will not allow access to?

        I also am curious of the claims of “recruiting” that I occasionally hear. In the context of this debate, the anecdotes on your side of the argument are always one-sided as if the culprits are exclusively private schools and that no public school ever pulls a kid into their building (overtly or otherwise) that ideally should be elsewhere, with athletics being part of the equation. Truth be told, there are stories of unusual means of schools acquiring “athletes” in some low volume (as the rare exception and certainly not the norm) across both sides of the public/private divide.

        Claims of private schools “recruiting” is always an interesting debate. How does it work exactly? How does a coach, school, or AD convince a family to accept and embrace all of the trappings that come with the decision to attend a private school, just so their child can participate in that school’s athletics rather than the local public school?

        There are often many factors to consider such as tuition, different academic offerings and minimum standards, single gender environments, faith based environments, dress codes, provide your own transportation, etc…

        On top of that, the “recruiter” must have a sharp eye for talent in 7th and 8th grade kids to know what exactly they will grow into by their senior year and be able to ultimately deliver that decisive advantage you claim exists.

        You must understand how the business model of private schools works though, that they must be proactive in attracting their entire student body. It’s not the default choice like the local public school. It’s an option. One could argue that each and every kid at each and every private school is there by some element of recruiting or marketing or on behalf of the school. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear advertising on the radio around the Detroit area for a public school district. The “Choose Chippewa” campaign was all over metro Detroit radio last year, encouraging enrollment in Chippewa Valley Schools. This was a radio advertising that was heard all over the tri-county metro Detroit area, at tri-county metro-Detroit areas advertising rates. Seems they are pursing kids as well.

        I am not sure how “BIG” the statistic is regarding how many public schools get knocked off without winning necessarily a championship. It sounds like you are speculating a bit yourself by citing a stat without real data associated with it, and merely suspecting that the numbers are alarming. But public schools do indeed represent 67 of the 104 total appearances in the finals under the current format (in place since 1999). To get to the finals, you have to knock off four teams. That’s a lot of playoff wins for public schools right there.

        More info here:
        http://michiganhsfootball.com/reply/49594/fairplayoffs-com#reply-49594

        You say it’s time to level the playing field, but I still don’t hear any compelling reasons outside of mere speculation.

  2. I should add

    You say: Of teams with 5 or more state titles, 6 of the 10 (60%) are private schools.

    I respond: Since 1999, 67 State Championships have been won by 41 public schools. In that same time, 37 State Championships have been won by 16 private schools. Of the teams that have more than one titles, twelve are public, nine are private. Three or more; six public, seven private. Four or more; six public, three private. Five or more; two public, two private.

  3. Further, one might argue that with private schools representing about 17-18% of schools in Michigan, winning 37 of the 104 championships (36%) since 1999 is a statistical over-representation.

    While they would be correct, that is merely surface data of the highest level and doesn’t properly characterize the situation.

    Of the 37 private school championships, 30 are represented by 9 schools. 26 are represented by 7 schools. To shave it down further, 14 of them are represented by only 3 schools.

    So statistically speaking, is it really an over-representation of private schools? Or is it more an over-representation by 9, or 7, or 3 private schools that have won multiple times?

    It seems there are about 634 schools participating in MHSAA Football. If private schools are 18% of that, it means there are 114 private schools that you want to either separate out, or assign a multiplier to. At most, only 9 of those 114 are statistically over-represented. But you suggest that they all warrant some treatment to make their competitive landscape a bit more of an uphill climb?

    I don’t get that.

    The 105 that have never won a championship might wonder about the competitive advantage they are being penalized for, as might the 96 who have never even been to a championship game.

    Keep in mind also that while 9 private schools represent 30 titles, 12 public schools represent 38 titles. Also, 6 public schools represent 26 titles. Also, 3 public schools represent 17 titles.

    So, if over-representation is an indicator of an advantage, there are arguably 12 public schools whose competitive advantage you seem unconcerned about.

    Why the concern for the over-representation of 9 private schools, but not the over-representation of 12 public schools? It seems like a double standard.

  4. You ask:
    “Why the concern for the over-representation of 9 private schools, but not the over-representation of 12 public schools? It seems like a double standard.”

    I respond:
    In my mind it isn’t really a public vs. private debate. It is about having a system where schools loaded with talent and have plentiful resources play other schools who are loaded with talent and have plentiful resources. The use of enrollment figures should be one of many factors rather than the only factor in setting up a playoff. I think public charter schools and magnet schools should also be affected by a multiplier if one were to be used.

  5. With all due respect, it’s a bit hard to follow what you are after here.

    Your introductory statement on “why we need change” is very specifically written to point out some perceived disparity of success between private schools and public schools. It cites very specific data regarding the differences between private schools and public schools by sheer volume, finals appearances, numbers of titles, the 2011 championships, lopsided scores, and the list of the winningest schools since 1950. In your 227 word section there, you use the word “private” eight times.

    But now you say it’s not about “public versus private”. It’s really about ensuring that schools “loaded with talent and have plentiful resources play other schools who are loaded with talent and have plentiful resources”.

    I guess I am looking for something quantifiable or tangible here to better understand what is unfair, uneven, or in need of correcting or balancing in some way. Can you elaborate on these schools that are somehow unfairly loaded with talent and resources that compete unfairly against schools in less fortunate circumstances?

    If that list of schools “also” includes as you say “public charter and magnet schools” then I think you are saying collectively that the issue resides with “private schools and public charter and magnet schools” in this context. I can’t be 100% sure though.

    As I mentioned before, there are SEVEN public school teams that represent THIRTY EIGHT finals appearances since the D1 – D8 format took hold in 1999. They are: Chrystal Falls Forest Park, East Grand Rapids, Mendon, Farmington Hills Harrison, Lowell, Utica Eisenhower and Rockford. These are arguably seven of the absolute best programs in Michigan, year in and year out. The get to the finals a lot, and among six of them (exclude Eisenhower) they have TWENTY FOUR of the 104 titles earned since 1999.

    They are traditional public schools. They are not private, magnet, nor charter schools. Yet they vastly over-represent in terms of finals appearances and titles.

    Your entire argument about why there needs to be some change is cited by examples of over-representation. Your entire argument seems to be that there needs to be a correction of sorts to even out or mitigate the over-representation of certain programs. It seems bucketed these schools very specifically as “private schools and public charter and magnet schools”.

    But what do you suggest is done to even out or mitigate the over-representation of Chrystal Falls Forest Park, East Grand Rapids, Mendon, Farmington Hills Harrison, Lowell, Utica Eisenhower and Rockford?

    If you assigned a multiplier to all the private, charter, and magnet schools, you would be creating a more difficult up-hill playoff climb for a group of schools that by a vast majority are NOT a part of the relatively small over-representation equation. Depending on how you quantify it, you would also be flat out missing as much as 60% of the programs that are indeed a part of the over-representation equation (of 23 schools with three or more trips to the finals since 1999, FOURTEEN are traditional public, NINE are private, none are magnet or charter).

    My point continues to be, there is no rational quantifiable foundation for a change. I really think more energy should be spent on becoming LIKE the programs that over-represent (both public and private) rather than orchestrate some effort for change that really looks like some kind of modern day “witch hunt” when shown under the light of even the mildest level of analytical scrutiny.

    • My point is that private schools, and some public schools, do have an unfair advantage. The data to show that private schools have an advantage is pretty evident and can hold up to more than a mild level of analytical scrutiny (what statistical measure are you using?). Several states have implemented a multiplier, so this isn’t a novel idea. This is not a “witch hunt” which would imply that the “witch” would be killed. The Saginaw Nouvel’s of the world would still win championships. They may not win them as often because they wouldn’t be playing in Division 7 where they may get matched up against small community schools. After all, they have much more in common with Saginaw Heritage than they do with Pewamo-Westphalia, I can assure you. Your comment about making public school programs more like some of these private school programs is very naive. How can a coach raise a community out of poverty so that kids can go to a bunch of football camps, go to college football games, go to NFL games, etc. How can they change the fact that some kids have to travel on a bus 30 miles (which takes almost 2 hours) to get to school? How can they change the number of one parent households, or the number of kids who don’t even have their own house in which to live? In your scenario the disadvantaged schools would have to raise their players. A more plausible solution is to have people play teams that they are like. The use of enrollment as the only factor doesn’t hold up to the analytical scrutiny you mention. I could go on and on but I doubt you will change your mind, and I’m sure I won’t change mine.

  6. As I have explained, the very same type of over-representative data you cite in an effort to somehow prove that private schools (or others) have some advantage can also be found in the public school results. Yet you insist that the data means private schools (or non-public schools) have an advantage. But you never answer why it doesn’t mean the same thing when it’s found just as easily and prevalent within public schools.

    You pick and choose what data you use, in an effort to support your ideology, as opposed to looking at all data and forming an objective rational opinion. Heck, you cite data that goes back to 1950 when the MHSAA playoffs didn’t even exist until 1975. The MHSAA didn’t exist all that time back.

    Further, you cite other playoff performance data that goes back to 1975 when the MHSAA has evolved (by virtue of member wants and needs for fairness) to a system that has been on place since 1999.

    Most states do what we do. I read it was actually 37. Some others have changed to a variety of systems, sure. But do you know why they changed? What was the pre-condition that made the change necessary?

    Why do you cite Saginaw Nouvel? Perhaps because it supports your ideology? Would the Mendon High story support your ideology or shoot a hole in it?

    I never said that anything to suggest that public school programs be “more like some of these private school programs”. You are putting words in my mouth Chad. You want a fair and reasonable exchange right?

    What I said was that I believe that “more energy should be spent on becoming LIKE the programs that over-represent (both public and private) rather than orchestrate some effort for change”. I’d suggest that programs emulate Mendon, EGR, Lowell, Rockford, and the successful private schools rather than trying to find a way to mitigate the success of an arbitrarily selected sub-set of them.

    As for kids that travel far to get to school, I bet the average commute for a private school kid is further than it is for a public school kid. And the private school kids don’t have a publicly paid for bus system. The families make arrangements otherwise.

    As for communities from more under-privileged or poverty stricken areas, are there none that have had football success? The Detroit PSL has three outstanding programs in King, Cass Tech, and Crockett. Inkster High recently had great string of playoff runs. It’s a hollow point Chad.

    Lastly, there are sub-sets of all kinds in Michigan. Sub-sets have sub-sets. Those sub-sets have sub-sets and so on. Is everyone owed a trophy? Or is everyone owed a system that caters to their unique socioeconomic situation?

    There are “have-nots” in this world for sure, both in the private and public school systems. There are “haves” as well in both in the private and public school systems.

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