If you have an interest in Arizona high school sports, you probably heard about the concern over the shaky power-point system this year.
Power points determine which teams make the playoffs and what seed they deserve. It's never been a perfect system, but the formula implemented last school year was supposed be better. It isn't.
The mathematical reason is convoluted and hard to understand; the crux of the issue lies in the current formula rewarding teams that play more power-point games.
Hard evidence of this issue popped up when basketball teams tried to find out if they were playoff bound before the sectional tournaments. They found out teams that simply made their sectional tournament and lost received a bump in the standings over teams that didn't make their sectional.
This phenomenon highlighted an existing issue; teams with fewer games scheduled in the regular season were getting the short end of the stick. In general, it also means rural teams are disadvantaged because most of the time they play fewer games.
Look no further than Mingus girls' soccer. They had a tremendous team this year with great defense and arguably the best scorer in the state, Torey Braly. Their only loss during the regular season was in a shootout to the Eagles in Flagstaff, a Division II powerhouse that went undefeated in the regular season. Mingus' earned an 11-1 regular season record.
With the faulty system, the Marauders earned a 5 seed in the Division III playoffs. Weirdly, the AIA gave two home games to the top four seeds, so that meant (5) Mingus played (4) Seton Catholic at Seton Catholic in the second round. The Sentinels earned a 12-1 record with their only loss coming to Division II Queen Creek.
Mingus was missing one of their best players, Braly wasn't 100 percent, and Seton won the game against Mingus, 1-0. It was a great game, Seton played inspired, and I wouldn't want to take anything away from them, but the game should not have been played on Seton's field.
Right off the bat, giving the top four seeds two home playoff games was a poor choice. It was intended to cut down on cost, but some have called that into question. I don't know if it saved money or not, but it was still unfair.
Even if the power-point formula was impenetrable and the seeding was absolutely correct, the difference between the 5 and 4 seeds is so minute, it doesn't make sense to reward a 4 seed with two home games and give the 5 none.
Secondly, since Seton Catholic played one more game than Mingus, their power points were given more weight. Since Seton is based in Chandler, they're closer to a boatload more schools than Mingus. It's easier for them to schedule games. It's also easier for their opponents to schedule games, and since opponents' victory points are woven into the current system, it unintentionally rewards metropolitan teams that play each other.
It's important to remember the AIA does a lot of things right, but they obviously need to fix this issue. Some teams potentially deserved playoff berths and were snubbed. Other teams were given the wrong seed, and it goes across all sports.
Hopefully this gets fixed before baseball and softball season, but if you're waiting for the AIA to admit fault, don't hold your breath. For this to change, schools need to unite and make this issue a priority.
To see the math behind the flaw, check John Carrieres' work by following this link. He's been the main whistle blower campaigning for a change.
Carrieres crunched the numbers, and in an email he wrote "Mingus would have been a top 4 seed if the formula was correct. Seton would not have been. My niece played for Seton. My wife teaches there. I told my niece at the time that they should not have been a 4 seed. Mingus could have ended as high as 3 but probably 4."
This example shows Carrieres is only interested in fairness, and the AIA should be too.