Ask The FHSAA: How Can We Make State Series Events More Practical & Competitive?

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!

The second issue we discuss is how can we make state series events more practical and competitive?

Florida has used a school classification system based purely on school  population for as long as most can remember. The current track & field structure has 4 classes with 4 regional complexes in each. There are 16 districts within each class and 4 per region. Advancement has been done by place for just as long.

One of the major issues we hear most about, regardless of sport, is travel. In some sports, the issue is competitive equity where some teams within an assigned district are completely mismatched to the point that the educational mission of interscholastic athletics is lost.  

One idea that has been floated our way was the elimination of districts altogether in favor of a regional complex in the state series and allow schools to form conferences (i.e. The Metro Conference, GMAC, BCAA, etc.) to foster more local and natural rivalries. Those meets should be a big deal and a major highlight to a team's season. District meets would be a thing of the past and a larger regional meet would take place instead. How those region meets would look and how advancement would occur would clearly be on the table.

Another idea has been taken from the way wrestling has been modified for next year-a separate team and individual championship. One could argue a true team champion has never been crowned a state champion ever because of the numbers it takes to win a state championship in the current format. Perhaps relay scoring is the way to find the best teams in the state from top to bottom? Perhaps a 100m state champion should beat the best the whole state has to offer in that event rather than just what that class has to offer? The current at-large qualifiers item making its way through committee could play a role in how some of this is structured.

Reconfiguring the classification formula for schools by accounting for the population density of the area where schools are located is an interesting idea, too, that's been presented to us. This would divide metro and suburban area schools into different classes. Past history shows that in most sports, 60-75% of the state championship teams come from metro areas (Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Orange, Seminole, and Duval counties). It's something to consider.

All in all, we'd like to find a way to improve the popularity and participation of the sport. We'd like there to be equity in competition, too. If the status quo just needs minor tweaks, then we are good with that.  However, we are also of the mindset that if we can improve the product, we should. If you've got an idea, no matter how outlandish, send it to your track advisory committee rep.  or send it this way.


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