Competitive Balance in sports other than football.

ccrunner906

New member
I recently read an article in regard to a Div II girl's swim team who won their 14th straight Ohio State Championship. Someone tried to compare them to St. Ed's Div. I record in wrestling and the debate was on. It was suggested that they couldn't be compared to St. Ed's because it would be like comparing apples to oranges since some of their girls wouldn't even have qualified for state in Div. I let alone score as high as they did if you put their times in with the D1 races at State.

I know actual racing is important in individually timed sports but as we still debate the competitive balance issue in Football at the Div. 1 level what about all other sports? What about timed sports where individual competition is involved. For example last years SW regional boy's cross country meet lacked competitive balance by division without a doubt. The final qualifiers (16th place) in the D2 and D3 races probably would have finished somewhere in the mid 60 - 70th place range in the D1 race. That's not taking away from the best runner of the day being from a D3 school but what about a runner from D1 Vandalia finishing 24th in the D1 race who didn't even sniff a qualifying spot. The eight runners ahead of him were from schools with 600-700 more boys than his school. If he was running in the D2 race he finishes 3rd and is off to state. He would have beat boys from schools around 100-150 boy's smaller than his in that 21 place difference.

I totally understand the need for divisions in team sports but he was running as an idividual and I will be the first to admit that I don't have the answer to this situation. It just doesn't seem right that he is either 3rd or 24th depending on where he lives, in a sport which is timed from point A to point B. If you finish 16th do you still pump your fist because you are on your way to state even though there were 50 guys that ran in the race after yours that beat your time and their season is over. I assume that doesn't matter to whoever makes it and it probably shouldn't.

I've been in DIII college gyms where they hang banners that proclaim them NCAA CHAMPIONS – they don't state Div III and they look just like the Div. 1 banners. I know there are intramural teams at OSU, BGSU, Miami etc... that would probably give a lot of top tier Div III college teams a run for their money in some sports. I guess once you are in that pool if you come out on top it doesn't matter what the bigger schools do you are only thinking of your journey.

This is a bit of a ramble but what can be done in sports other than football to balance the competition so a 16th isn't a 68th or a 24th could have been a 3rd in individually timed sports?
 

Fervent

New member
This seems to come up every year or so. My opinion is that you should have 4 divisions for all non-football sports and that would go a long way (but certainly not resolve) with the competitive balance issue. As you point out, the discrepancies in D1 are far too great from smaller D1 to larger D1. Unfortunately, the argument against is always having another division adds cost and therefore not likely to happen.
 

mcgavin

New member
I totally understand the need for divisions in team sports but he was running as an idividual and I will be the first to admit that I don't have the answer to this situation. It just doesn't seem right that he is either 3rd or 24th depending on where he lives, in a sport which is timed from point A to point B. If you finish 16th do you still pump your fist because you are on your way to state even though there were 50 guys that ran in the race after yours that beat your time and their season is over. I assume that doesn't matter to whoever makes it and it probably shouldn't.

One thought is to to run all divisions together at the regional and state level. Seperate team champions and qualifiers afterwards by division, but do not seperate individuals. At the regional level, for example, you could say the top 48 individuals advance to the state meet regardless of division. At the state level you could award the top 25 finishers "podium" status and the top 50 finishers "all-ohio" status. The biggest difficulty with this, of course, would be the increased size of each race. The field would be three times larger.

I agree with the gist of your post. It makes sense to seperate team scores into divisions, but why seperate the individuals? A D1 team has an advantage over a smaller team, but what advantage does a D1 individual have over a D2/D3 individual?
 

finishline654

New member
I totally understand the need for divisions in team sports but he was running as an idividual and I will be the first to admit that I don't have the answer to this situation. It just doesn't seem right that he is either 3rd or 24th depending on where he lives, in a sport which is timed from point A to point B.

I do think there's a need for some type of competitive balance in other sports if they're going to do in football, but how it would be done is also my question? You can apply the bold part to so many situations, which is what makes it tough. You have guys that run 18:50-19:30 that at a large D1 school never get a chance at varsity, but at a D3 school, it puts them in a scoring position on varsity. I think the best answer would be to add another division to cut down on the size disparity in D1, which wouldn't be as much of an issue for cross country as it would for track.
 

said_aouita

Well-known member
This is a bit of a ramble but what can be done in sports other than football to balance the competition so a 16th isn't a 68th or a 24th could have been a 3rd in individually timed sports?

Get rid of all divisions and make it a moot point. Adding divisions or more awards for lower placers probably only benefits the business side, meaning more $ for ohsaa. The competition becomes more watered down, imo.
If anything you'd be rewarding somebody that does not necessary deserve it.

Next thing you will have separate divisions for left vs right hand? Maybe a red headed division?
Adding more divisions isn't balancing the competition, if anything it makes Ohio less competitive nationally.
 
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psycho_dad

Well-known member
In theory, a D1 school should have a better tallent pool to draw from. So, you have better teammates to train with and better teammates to man better relay teams. Most conferences have schools with like kids as far as economics, numbers etc.

School size makes a difference of how athletes are used. I will use some of our kids as examples. We have used girls in the 3200 at Districts, Regionals and state, and brought them back in the 4x400 because even after running a 3200, they gave our 4x400 the best chance to qualify on. We have qulified a team to state that way. D1 does not need to do that and probably couldn't anyway. D3 probably has that happen a lot more than D2. We also use distance kids in sprint events and field events too. Smaller schools don't tend to specialie kids as much as larger schools can, so times and distances may suffer.

A few years ago we had a girl win the state in the 1600. Time wise, she would have only finished 7th in D1. A week later at the Midwest meet of champions, she beat the girl that finished 2nd in the D1 race at the State meet. The girl that finished 2nd in the state in D2 also beat the no 2 D1 girl. The point is, you are racing other athletes and not the clock. You can't just plug times in a chart and say this kid would have bettered this kid.

There are advantages to being at a big school as well as some disadvantages. You compete against the competition you have in front of you and don't worry about what other divisions are doing.

Fortunately we have had a few state champions in the 1600 on the girls side the past few years. We went 1,2 last year. The girl that came in 2nd, ran the 100, 200, 400 and 4x400 at the league meet. We did not exactly do her any favors in how we used her and trained her. Still, other than her teammate, she was the best 1600m runner in the state in D2. I'm sure had we trained her specifically for the 1600, she would have been a tad faster at it. Same with her teammate. In track and field, it is still a team sport comprised of many events. We have 300m hurdlers that have just missed going to state. Maybe if we didn't run them in the 4x800 and the high hurdles, they would be much faster come the 300m hurdles. We make choices to try and field the best team possible. I know of smaller schools that don't have the option of using their best athlete in relays because they just can't field 3 other runners. So, they specialize athletes like a D1 team would. When that happens, D3 gets very competitive in certain events and can compete with D1.

Instead of complaining that a time would have done something in a lower Division, think how fortunate the athlete is to compete against a stronger overall pool of competitors that help them post better times.
 

ccrunner906

New member
I Agree

Instead of complaining that a time would have done something in a lower Division, think how fortunate the athlete is to compete against a stronger overall pool of competitors that help them post better times.

I guess I can't disagree with everyone and their thoughts but I will add I did say that I know racing is important. It is nice to be in the top Division and I do agree that you up your game no matter what the sport when you go against tougher competition week in and week out. When you think about it the NCAA D1 champions get a little more recognition then the D3 champs in most sports but I'm not sure that is the case with the casual fan of high school sports.

Back to the balance part though. It is well established that going into the SW regional at Troy it is going to take around 16:20 or faster year in and year out to get to state in D1. In D2 you can still be around 17:00 and make it. There is a lot of cross over during the season with runners from all size school going against each other in smaller races. The same kids that run 17:00 flat at regionals don't lower their times to 16:15 on a similiar course under similiar conditions just because they are racing D1 kids. I know there are exceptions but it doesn't happen week in and week out most of the time.

Two of the better freshmen in our Conference with PR's in the 16:15 range (on a very fast course I may add) ran on the regional course at the beginning of the season at an invitational in much worse conditions than the day of regionals itself. One finished in 16:46 and the other 16:50's. Going into regionals, each obviously hoping to lower their times from earlier in the year, they were both faced with making a race plan. Looking at past results they both talked to each other and decided they were going to go out together and try to run the first mile in the top 20 pack and then hope they had the gas to finish in the top 16. They both went out in 4:50 at the mile in 17th and 18th place and then blew up and finished in the 100's place wise. If all that was needed was a 17:00 their race management would have been much different I'm sure. After they cut their chips I saw them both talking as they left the finish area probably saying how wrong that went.

I guess when you compare it to the college level, there are probably runners on D1 teams that run in the middle of the pack who would have been stars at a D3 school and visa versa. To most casual followers of high school XC they see a kid going to state from a small school and a couple of kids from a big school who must be ready for the season to be over and just chucked it on the last day of the season. Not really the case though.
 

Newt

New member
I can't believe you're concerned that a D2 runner pumps his fist for finishing 16th at regional. How petty. The fact that this topic bothers you enough to start this thread is sad. What if the small schools dropped out of OHSAA and formed the Ohio Association of Small Schools and had their championship on a different day at a different course? Would that ease your pain? Or, you could move to Indiana where they have one division and those 17:00 min runners are kept in their place.

I can't imagine how angry you get when they give medals to those Special Olympics kids.
 
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mcgavin

New member
Instead of complaining that a time would have done something in a lower Division, think how fortunate the athlete is to compete against a stronger overall pool of competitors that help them post better times.

This supports my earlier idea of combining all three divisions into one race for xc. Separate the team scores by division, but do not separate for individual awards. You would only have one individual state champion boy and one state champion girl instead of three, but that pair would be the undisputed king & queen of xc. Gives everyone a chance "to compete against a stronger overall pool of competitors that help them post better times." Don't see this being realistic for track and field, but could work for xc. I think it would be amazing.

What are the negatives?
My biggest concern would be the size of the regional and state fields, three times larger than it is currently (not to mention the traffic getting into National trail raceway would be three times worse!)
 

Aim9Mike

Member
There are two goals to high school track / xc competition.

1) The love of competition, the sport, and competing for one's school and teammates. If this is your goal, then the school divisions are fine.

2) State and / or national recognition, with possibly an athletic scholarship to a college program or an opportunity to compete at the international level unattached. Track and XC are possibly the only sports that can measure an athlete's performance objectively. The data bases out there, like milesplit and eliteyouth, are endless. Everyone knows who the best is at each event, wherever he is or whatever school division he's in. This fact isn't lost on college recruiters or people who follow the sport. So if this is your objective, then the school divisions are fine.

Bottom line - the school divisions are fine. There ain't no trees to hide behind on the track, or the XC course. You either got it, or you don't. That's the beauty of the sport.
 

Running Man 101

Active member
In theory, a D1 school should have a better tallent pool to draw from. So, you have better teammates to train with and better teammates to man better relay teams. Most conferences have schools with like kids as far as economics, numbers etc.

School size makes a difference of how athletes are used. I will use some of our kids as examples. We have used girls in the 3200 at Districts, Regionals and state, and brought them back in the 4x400 because even after running a 3200, they gave our 4x400 the best chance to qualify on. We have qulified a team to state that way. D1 does not need to do that and probably couldn't anyway. D3 probably has that happen a lot more than D2. We also use distance kids in sprint events and field events too. Smaller schools don't tend to specialie kids as much as larger schools can, so times and distances may suffer.

A few years ago we had a girl win the state in the 1600. Time wise, she would have only finished 7th in D1. A week later at the Midwest meet of champions, she beat the girl that finished 2nd in the D1 race at the State meet. The girl that finished 2nd in the state in D2 also beat the no 2 D1 girl. The point is, you are racing other athletes and not the clock. You can't just plug times in a chart and say this kid would have bettered this kid.

There are advantages to being at a big school as well as some disadvantages. You compete against the competition you have in front of you and don't worry about what other divisions are doing.

Fortunately we have had a few state champions in the 1600 on the girls side the past few years. We went 1,2 last year. The girl that came in 2nd, ran the 100, 200, 400 and 4x400 at the league meet. We did not exactly do her any favors in how we used her and trained her. Still, other than her teammate, she was the best 1600m runner in the state in D2. I'm sure had we trained her specifically for the 1600, she would have been a tad faster at it. Same with her teammate. In track and field, it is still a team sport comprised of many events. We have 300m hurdlers that have just missed going to state. Maybe if we didn't run them in the 4x800 and the high hurdles, they would be much faster come the 300m hurdles. We make choices to try and field the best team possible. I know of smaller schools that don't have the option of using their best athlete in relays because they just can't field 3 other runners. So, they specialize athletes like a D1 team would. When that happens, D3 gets very competitive in certain events and can compete with D1.

Instead of complaining that a time would have done something in a lower Division, think how fortunate the athlete is to compete against a stronger overall pool of competitors that help them post better times.


Agree with psycho dad on most points. An additional add in the D3 vs D1 discussion is coaching and support resources. Although probably not true for every school, I would expect the number and quality of coahces to be better at the larger school, as well as secondary support in trainers and facilities. I would still contend that coaching is as big a factor in distance running than breadth of gene pool.
 

ccrunner906

New member
I can't believe you're concerned that a D2 runner pumps his fist for finishing 16th at regional. How petty. The fact that this topic bothers you enough to start this thread is sad. What if the small schools dropped out of OHSAA and formed the Ohio Association of Small Schools and had their championship on a different day at a different course? Would that ease your pain? Or, you could move to Indiana where they have one division and those 17:00 min runners are kept in their place.

I can't imagine how angry you get when they give medals to those Special Olympics kids.

I guess I could have worded my point a little better but I assure you my point was not to take away from someone's reaction to making it to state nor would I ever get upset over anything to do with Special Olympics.

My point was supposed to be towards the 50 kids, some from schools very similiar in size to the 16th place qualifier, who will not have that same opportunity to continue their seasons at state, even though they ran from point A to point B in a faster time. Racing them might have made a little difference but It wouldn't make a 50 place difference. If there was 10 to even 20 places of difference between the last qualifier in one division and the equivilant time in another it wouldn't be a big deal but 50. :Ohno:

D2 - 16th place 17:09 - School Size 320's - OFF TO STATE
D1 - 65th place 17:08 - School Size 420's - Season Over and not even in the individual picture.

There has to be something better.
 

mcgavin

New member
Posters honestly believe D2 and D3 athletes are at a disadvantage in the sport of cross country? I'm stunned by this. And Newt is comparing D2 and D3 athletes to special olympic athletes? Wow.

Would you tell your D2 and D3 athlete "don't worry that you ran slower than that D1 athletes, he/she has more advantages than you"?

Its not like there is some D1 fairy that flies around to all of the athlete's houses while they sleep, spreading her magical D1 pixie dust that makes them all 30 seconds faster. :) And if there is, please send her my way!
 
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Newt

New member
Posters honestly believe D2 and D3 athletes are at a disadvantage in the sport of cross country? I'm stunned by this. And Newt is comparing D2 and D3 athletes to special olympic athletes? Wow.

Why not? If he believes that it's unfair for D2 athletes to compete at the state meet when they are slower than his D1 runners I assumed he wouldn't want anyone else to get recognition if they couldn't beat his disadvantaged big-school kids.

I'm as outraged by his arrogance as you are with my assumption.
 

said_aouita

Well-known member
Or, you could move to Indiana where they have one division and those 17:00 min runners are kept in their place.

.

All it means is that semi-state is an accomplishment. After Indiana's regional, they have semi-state and then the "big boy" qualifiers go on to Lavern Gibson for the Indiana state meet.
 

yj_runfan

Well-known member
I'm not sure I understand the problem. The current system is unfair to ... the D1 athletes that are better than the D2 & D3 athletes that get to compete at state? Really? So, we make those D1 athletes feel better by keeping the inferior kids from pumping their fists for that 16th place D2 regional finish?

Wow. That can't be what you are suggesting. What am I missing here?
 

ccrunner906

New member
Arrogance???? What am I missing?????? Really????

Two kids from very similiar sized schools (within 100 boys of each other) step to a line within 45 minutes of each other as individuals on the same course. A gun sounds and they each run 3.1 miles in 17:08 in seperate races. One is going to STATE and the other is going home in 55th place. Is this OK???? Is it OK because that's just how it is. Is there a better way???? That's all this was meant to be. Can't think of any other way to ask the question about competitive balance in XC.
 

Run4Life

Member
Arrogance???? What am I missing?????? Really????

Two kids from very similiar sized schools (within 100 boys of each other) step to a line within 45 minutes of each other as individuals on the same course. A gun sounds and they each run 3.1 miles in 17:08 in seperate races. One is going to STATE and the other is going home in 55th place. Is this OK???? Is it OK because that's just how it is. Is there a better way???? That's all this was meant to be. Can't think of any other way to ask the question about competitive balance in XC.

I am not sure comparisons between the 2 athletes here is what competitive balance is about. I for one would not want to see the OHSAA do away with divisions in our sport(s). While it sometimes might ease the sting of your athlete to tell them they would have been top 15 or so in the smaller division it doesn't change the fact they raced in a different one.
 

Newton's Third

Active member
OHSAA holds tournaments to crown "team" champions. This is the reason for divisions based on size of schools. Individual advancement is something that coaches, athletes, and fans of our sport care about, but not the governing body. They do not care that Division V football running backs may run for more yards because they are against comparatively poorer defenses. OHSAA is after a team competition that is fair and doesn't care about individual advancement. We fans of the sport want everything.
 
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ccrunner609

Active member
We can beat the "D1 is deeper then all others" drum all day long and it should be.

I think that if you took the % of 16 minute runners on Centervilles team of 120 runners and the number of 16 minute runners on a 12 person DIII school that the % are relatively close.

I have 14-18 runners a year in my very small DII school running. Out of those, half of them are "runners". So on any given year I am looking at 7-8 "runners" The rest are bball players, tennis players and wrestlers. Dont even get me started on soccer and its affect on the pool of possible runners. At a large DI school the CC runners arent fllling out the basketball roster. With that in mind, you have larger teams, a larger % of kids that just run, larger pool to pull from and you end up with what you have in DI.

My suggestion is that if you dont want to have anything to do with DI in the SW region, every kid in the state can transfer to another school.
 

psycho_dad

Well-known member
Newton's Third has it right. At the very worst, the 17th best kid is left out. The solution is to be top 16 in CC. In track, the worst case is the 5th best. At our school when it comes to District and Regional, our motto is 4th is 1st.

If it will make ccrunner906 feel better, At the NE Regional last year D3 boys kicked D1 and D2's butt. Did not hear as much crying from the D3 kids about how unfair it was though.

Along the lines of CC609, Indiana qualifies roughly the same percentage of runners to the state meet in CC as does Ohio by population. Same for Track. The big problem I have with Indiana is that the large schools absolutley dominate CC and Track and at the track& field state meet, they run finals in multiple timed heats. It's horrible.
 
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