MIAA Football playoff format not as bad as it seems

Too many divisions. Too many teams. Complaints.

That’s what the state of Massachusetts sounds like right now. Why? The MIAA football playoffs. That’s why. There’s eight divisions across the state. And specifically in Eastern Mass, eight teams make it to the playoffs per division.  It’s a little different in Central and Western Mass at times, but the tournament format is similar.

So what’s the big deal? A lot of teams making the playoffs? There’s grumblings that teams with losing records are in it — and they shouldn’t be, if that makes sense. Yeah, adults criticizing kids. That’s real nice. It’s an imperfect system but in reality, this is kind of just the way it has to be.

The state went from six divisions to eight divisions, so the level of competition of each division is slightly diluted. That’s 32 more teams making the playoffs this year in the eastern part of the state alone. Kind of a lot. But, at the same time, if there’s eight teams making the playoffs per division, what do you cut it to? Four?  Can’t do that.

Look at Division 1A South for a second. King Philip and Wellesley are undefeated. Natick, Mansfield and Marshfield all lost close games against undefeated teams earlier in the season. Bridgewater-Raynham lost to two undefeated teams (Duxbury and Dartmouth) and a Division 1 powerhouse in St. John’s Prep (coached by ex-NFL quarterback Brian St. Pierre). But they did beat Xaverian. Can you really say those six D1A South teams aren’t all great teams?

Every year, there’s going to be five or six real playoff contenders per division. You could do six seeds instead, but then the top two teams would have a bye week in the first round. And these are kids who signed up to play football, so it would be wrong to deny them that right.

The best teams are going to win no matter what, so why does it even matter? Teams grow throughout the year too, so regular season wins and losses aren’t always going to tell everything.


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