Ask The FHSAA: How Do We Improve The State Series?

Over the next couple of weeks we will talk to Ed Thompson, FHSAA Director of Athletics, Track & Field Administrator about hot hot button issues you the running community want to know about. Let this series serve as an open dialogue between our audience and the governing body of our sport. Want your opinion heard? Want to address a certain issue or topic? Here is your chance!

Up first, How do we make the state series better? 

Currently, we have one proposal on the table that's already passed both the Track & Field Advisory Committee (Comprised of Boys and Girls Coaches from FHSAA Member Schools) and the Athletic Directors Advisory Committee (Comprised of Member School Athletic Directors).  That proposal is to add at large qualifiers to the state championship meet for each event.  The current language has eight additional qualifiers added to the field for each of the 17 events based upon performances at the regional meets.  That would be eight at large bids per event per gender per class.  Naturally, this will add to the length of our state meet-the preliminaries will be that much more important if both committees approve it again in May and in September respectively.  The current format of the state meet makes this change relatively easy to make because it fits well with the two-day design.  We are currently working on the procedural details of the proposal and it should be ready for the committees to review in the coming weeks.

The at-large bids, more importantly, vastly improve the product with which we've worked with over the last number of years.  Everyone talks about his or her "region of death."  This eliminates the excuses for not qualifying where conceivably one region could put 12 athletes into one event at the state meet.  To me that sounds crazy...crazy fun.  It will really give coaches and athletes the opportunity to not only have the best field out there competing, but also showcase specific corners of the state that are hotbeds for events like the pole vault or 1600m.  My coaching background is in sprints and relays and I'm excited at the prospect of seeing what South Florida can bring to the table with the additional bids in those events.

The bottom line for us is we want to continue to improve the FHSAA's product-the Florida High School State Championships.  We are clearly going in a new direction with how we do things and we're trying new ideas.  Look no further than the work that Frank Beasley has done with football with the new innovative playoff seeding system.  It takes a giant step toward improving competitive equity in the playoffs for football.  With our sport, we want to do whatever we can to make Florida the envy of the nation.  We already have the greatest pool of student-athlete talent the nation has to offer and some of the most effective coaches around.  At-large bids in 2018 are another step toward achieving pre-eminent status in High School Track & Field.

With all of that being said, it's important for stakeholders to remember to keep their eyes ahead and not looking backward.  Because something was done for a long time, doesn't mean it has to be that way in perpetuity.  When considering changes to how our sport conducts itself, we need to keep in mind what's best for the state from Pensacola to Key West and every big city and every small town in between.  Our state isn't what it was ten or even five years ago.  Our office is open for business on innovation.  We need your best and brightest-and even off the wall-ideas.