Follow us:

High School Sports Blog

The latest news and analysis on high-school sports around the Seattle area

December 16, 2008 at 1:47 PM

Too many state champions?

This year, 288 different football players in Washington can call themselves state champions. Ninety-six high school teams made the football playoffs — that’s more than the total number of high schools in New Hampshire.

As this piece in ESPN points out today, there are 322 high school state championship teams in the U.S. this year. Washington (Population: roughly 6.5 million) contributes six of them, and it’s far from the worst offender. Massachusetts (Popularion: roughly 6.5 million) has 13 state champions, New Jersey (Population: roughly 8.7 million) has 20 state champions, and New Mexico (Population: roughly 2 million) has seven different state champions, just for comparison’s sake. Wyoming (population: roughly 525,000) has five state champions, and ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook points out “If California had the same ratio of high school football champions to residents as does Wyoming, California would have 356 state championship-winning high schools.” California, though, has just four state championships.

In Washington, winning a state championship means being the best among approximately 70 schools. In Class 2A, it’s only 55 — that means that 29 percent of the schools in the class make the playoffs (not to mention the preliminary round). Forty-seven percent of 3A schools (32 out of 68) make the district crossover round. In smaller classes, we have had occasions in Washington of one-win teams making the playoffs!

Washington has awarded five separate state championships since 1973; it added one more in 1997 to grow with the rising number of schools.

Indiana, where I worked two years ago, is most famous for one-class format it held onto the longest time, especially in basketball, in which the state did not go to multiple classes until 1998. Under that format, the Hoosiers plot — where a small school from the small town wins it all — was possible. Imagine if Prosser could have faced Skyline or Lewis & Clark in 2007. But the downside is clear: many of the smallest schools would never have a shot at the playoffs, much less winning the state title.

Are there too many state champions? There’s little argument that the 8 and 11-man teams should be split up, but where would you draw the line after that?

Comments

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►