Enough is enough. Break them up.
This isn’t about one year. It’s about seven years of cheating high school basketball teams of their playoff hopes and dreams. Break them up.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and its Rating Percentage Index Committee will roll out new changes for the 2017-18 basketball season.
Among the changes, the WIAA will now include the record of out-of-state opponents when determining a team’s RPI ranking each week. It will also count postseason games — including league and district tournaments — before the final rankings become locked in prior to the regional round of the state tournament.
The latest round of changes will mark the WIAA and RPI’s fifth format change since the 2010 season. Over the course of this seven-year conflict resolution counseling session, countless teams like the 2012-13 Thomas Jefferson Raiders and the 2016 Foss Falcons have been hurt thanks to reoccurring changes. Not factoring in postseason wins played a role in Federal Way facing Kentwood in back-to-back playoff games in 2017.
Break them up.
Remember this is the same WIAA that didn’t realize the importance of crediting teams for their records against out-of-state opponents and counting postseason games toward a “final grade.” The oversight was an egregious one, and the suffering that occurred this past season because of it is unforgivable.
This 2016-17 season should have been the final straw. You need look no further than the Foss Falcons and Federal Way Eagles boys basketball teams.
In Foss’s case, not only did the Falcons go on to win the 2A state championship, but they were slotted at the top of the Associated Press Poll each week. They ran the table in the 2A South Puget Sound League’s Mountain Division with a perfect 14-0 season. Foss then won both games in the SPSL tournament, taking the undisputed league title.
The Falcons then ran the table at the West Central District tournament, beating North Kitsap by more than 20 points.
Was their score credited for all these league and district wins? No, because, apparently, to the WIAA, league and district playoff games were meaningless. Break them up.
When Federal Way opened its postseason in almost identical fashion to Foss, guess how many points the Eagles were credited from the RPI for the effort?
Just like the Falcons, they got none. Why? Because the WIAA quit rewarding teams after their final regular season game.
With examples like these, Thomas Jefferson graduate and the 2016-17 3A Coach of the Year (West Seattle) Keffrey Fazio said he and the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association questioned why postseason rankings were an afterthought and not included in the original 2016 changes.
“Teams should benefit if you win out in your tournament,” Fazio urged. “If you’re beating playoff-worthy teams – in the playoffs, shouldn’t that weigh in on your seeding for state?”
Good news: Players and coaches cried foul loud enough that the WIAA actually listened.
The two sides have reconciled for a fifth time.
The first agreement of “including the record of out-of-state opponents” hits close to home.
It’s one of the reasons the Federal Way Eagles didn’t play in the fairly prestigious Walt Disney Christmas basketball tournament in Florida.
The biggest reason was funds. But, at the same time, with the previous model, the WIAA designed its RPI model so that a powerhouse, like Federal Way, and some small 2B school from Connecticut were considered equals.
One year later (or one year too late), the WIAA has seen the error of its ways. The new 2017 model says “out-of-state opponents will no longer ALL be considered teams with a .500 record.”
Despite the glaring issues with the previous structure, Federal Way coach Jerome Collins said he feels the RPI calculation system should have little to no bearing on how programs conduct their game plans.
“We don’t even think about it [the RPI],” Collins said. “You know how you do well with that and counter all that? You win games. If you win, you don’t rely on some formula. It’s that simple.”
In 2017-18, the second change to the RPI program, which will count postseason games, means Federal Way will be rewarded for a 4-0 run in the district tournament.
But it’s five changes too late for attrition. Break them up.
Fazio says the new changes are a step in the right direction, a sign that this broken home could be mended.
But what if all the back and forth with the WIAA, RPI committee and WIBCA could have been avoided?
What if simple, common sense solutions, like rewarding teams for postseason play appropriately, had been implemented in 2016, or, better yet, 2010?
It’s time for the WIAA and this RPI committee to amicably part ways and start anew.
While the RPI Committee is made of former basketball coaches, perhaps it’s time for today’s active coaches, like Fazio, to design a new model that is fair to all programs.
It’s time for the WIAA to design an RPI model that matches its slogan: “Doing the right thing matters.”
The current RPI system and hierarchy has done the wrong things since 2010, and it’s the hard-working players and coaches who suffer for the mistakes.
As the song lyric goes: “Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.” This latest round of band-aids still leaves wounds exposed in the current system.
It’s time for the WIAA to do the right thing and tear down the RPI model and give coaches, players and themselves a model they can be proud of and not one they have to fix every year. Really, how much worse can that be?
Break them up.
Jerod Young is the Mirror sports reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.