What if every team didn’t qualify for section/district playoffs?

I feel like I ask myself that question every year: What if teams had to qualify for the section/district playoffs in Minnesota and North Dakota high schools?

I pose the question after seeing some of the scores coming in from Minnesota high school hockey tonight in first-round games, and recalling some of the scores from North Dakota district boys basketball earlier in the month.

Point being that playoff appearances, just like anything at that level of sports,  should be fun for the kids. But when you see some of the scores from these 1 vs. 8 and 2 vs. 7 games, is that really fun?

You’d like to think in sports that anything can happen, but the odds of most of these teams pulling off an upset are so unlikely that I just wonder if everyone isn’t better served by eliminating the first round. In fact, often times these teams don’t meet until the playoffs, in all likelihood because both sides know that there is a hefty talent split between them.

That would add more intrigue to the regular season. Imagine if, for example, only four teams qualified for the section playoffs in Minnesota Class 1A or 2A Section 8 boys hockey. It would be quite a mad rush for those teams to try to land spots in the top four.

I suppose the downside to that would be that players on last-place teams wouldn’t have much to play for late in the regular season.

Just a topic I thought I’d toss out there. Interested in hearing some responses.

8 thoughts on “What if every team didn’t qualify for section/district playoffs?

  1. Every team needs the opportunity to play in some type of tournament game, even if it is a play-in game. Even though the chances are very slim that they would move on, even the last place team deserves the chance to keep playing. Maybe the top teams don’t need to leave their starters in to win by 50 points? Maybe they have some younger kids who could get some playing time in preparation for next year?

  2. My nephew was a member of a baseball team for a large school in a St. Paul suburb. His baseball team came into the Section tournament as the bottom seed with a 2-16 record. Those kids “came together” and fought their way all the way to the final…and took the top seeded team to two games, thus they came one game away from a spot in the state tournment. The coach, a higly successful, well known, respected long time coach in football and basketball as well as baseball has noted that team and what they accomplished as the most inspirational in his entire career. I’m sure smiles come to those young men’s faces as they reflect on the spirit, pride and determination they came up with to earn the Section Runners Up trophy. This is why everyone should have be given the opportunity!

  3. I agree to an extent – some of the teams are just looking forward to losing so their season can be over finally. For some of those last place teams the season can get pretty long.
    It would save some of those schools some money too.

  4. You can never count out the underdogs – my nephew’s basketball team went into the District tourney with only 2 wins to their season, but they were determined to beat their rival in the 4th meeting between the teams this year! They pulled off the upset, and managed yet another win for 3rd place, giving them a Regional Berth! These boys never gave up on their season, and going to Regionals with a 4 win season, is quite remarkable! Very proud of all of them!

  5. Let kids extend their season as long as possible. If you watch high school kids play sports you can sometimes see them improve each game. Why cut off that opportunity to get better even if you don’t think that 7th or 8th seeded team has a chance to be competitive?

    Blowout games can be an opportunity for both coaches to let everyone play and build depth for next season.

  6. Thanks for the responses. It’s an interesting topic for me.

    On the one hand, parents pay so much money nowadays for their kids to participate in sports that they deserve to play in as many games as possible. Get the most bang for their buck.

    On the other hand, and I tried to write this without picking on one team, but especially with Minnesota hockey, there are just some outrageous scores in the 1 vs. 8 and 2 vs. 7 games. And frequently it’s the same teams playing each other each season. Do the kids on those 7 and 8 seeded teams enjoy the challenge? Perhaps they do. In some cases, those teams are closing the gap.

    Anyway, great responses everyone.

  7. I see where you’re coming from, but I think every team deserves some shot in the playoffs. I played on some bad teams but still looked forward to playoffs.

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