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Fri, Nov 28, 2014

Will the TSSAA please get rid of the ping pong balls

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Every year I write a column about the TSSAA and its seeding process for the state tournaments. This is it.

For reasons that I cannot fathom, the TSSAA persists in having a blind draw to seed the tournament. This needs to cease and there are a number of reasons why.

1. Teams need to be rewarded for having great years by playing a slightly weaker opponent in the first round. You do not need to play potential championship games in the first round. This happens every year, usually more than once. The Siegel boys are a good example. Why should the Stars (No. 1 or 2 in the state) be playing Arlington?

Arlington was the No. 1 or 2 team in the tournament and beat the team (White Station) that was supposed to win it. It doesn’t matter who won or lost. It’s about what’s fair and it wasn’t to Arlington or Siegel. Another good example is the Creek Wood girls. They had the best record in the tournament. Who did they play? The team with the second best record in the tournament in Dyersburg. Sure they won, but that’s not the point. Dyersburg got the shaft!

2. You should avoid a situation like this year in Class A girls. The four teams in one bracket were 128–9. The teams in the other were 99–36. Clearly this is not balanced. It made the four best teams in the tournament fight it out to play one of the worst four in the tournament. If the tournament had been seeded properly, it would have greatly increased the chances of two of the best teams playing in the finals. Who got hurt here? The three teams with the best records besides Union City got hurt because they never should have been playing each other in round one.

3. On a national level, the public and media begin talking about the NCAA tournament months before the March seeding, which is done by actual people with computers, records, stats and, hopefully, common sense. Note the absence of ping pong balls. The NCAA March seeding gets it down to 68 teams and generates tons of publicity complete with arguments and controversy. The TSSAA system generates little and, except for me, no talk at all. Zero! None! If we can seed a national 68 team tournament, then we can seed an eight-team AAA bracket in Tennessee and all the other levels as well. I challenge the TSSAA (again!) to do better than a dog and pony show with ping pong balls.

This could be a big deal at the Embassy. It could be on TV and statewide radio with the unveiling of each bracket. Coaches would be interviewed along with principals and TSSAA officials. It would be on every TV outlet and sports report in the state that night and repeated statewide. Sponsors would love it and the TSSAA loves sponsors and publicity. Here’s a chance at both and an opportunity for a fairer system.

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jeff jordan, ping pong, tssaa
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