SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 6, 2012

Our view: New football playoff system worth a try

The traditional Thanksgiving Day games pairing Beverly and Salem, Marblehead and Swampscott, and Danvers and Gloucester may not be the same.

And teams that qualify for the first round of “playoffs” just eight weeks into the season might well never have gotten even that far if the teams played out their full schedules.

So there are certainly flaws in the new statewide high school football playoff system as approved earlier this month by the schools of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. And the close vote — 161-131 — shows that a lot of coaches and athletic directors have some significant questions about it.

But the idea of including more teams — Swampscott coach Steve Dembowski projects that 55 percent of all schools will now make the playoffs — and the notion of basing all of the qualifiers on existing divisions makes a lot more sense than the current format, in which teams play their slates of conference games, then seemingly bounce up and down come playoff times. It should also make for a more uniform and fair competition. And that should be the bottom line.

Is this the best solution? That remains to be seen.

But as Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli noted, the new format, in which each league with five teams or more will get two playoff entrants, is at least an attempt at a solution.

The new format also makes serious strides toward protecting the health of young athletes by moving past the absurd prospect of a team having to play three games in 10 days — a season finale on Thanksgiving, a playoff game the following Tuesday and a Super Bowl championship game four days after that. If a college or professional team had to play that kind of bruising schedule, there would be an uproar, and rightly so.

It’s important to note that the new system will debut in 2013 and 2014 on a trial basis. And officials would have the option to return to the current or to yet another format should this one pose new problems rather than solve old ones.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion

AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate
Helium