Seven years ago the Indiana High School Athletic Association decided it would be a good idea to implement a success factor for teams who experience postseason success among the team sports within a two-year period.
The new rule passed with a 16-2 vote.
For those who are not familiar with the rule, here’s a quick breakdown:
It is applied to baseball, basketball, football, softball, soccer and volleyball teams who perform well in the postseason.
Points are accumulated based on postseason championships: sectional is worth one point; regional two points; semistate three points; and a state championship is worth four points.
If a team accumulates six points in a two-year period they move up a class the following season.
For example, the Gibson Southern softball team appeared in back-to-back Class 3A state championship games in 2014 and ‘15 including winning it all in ‘15.
Applying the success factor point system, the Titans totaled seven points (three for semistate championship and four for state championship) over those two years and were bumped up to 4A starting in ‘16.
Once a team is moved up a class, they remain in the bumped up class for two years. If they accumulate three points during those two years, they remain in the class for two more years. If less than three points, they move back down.
The Titans won sectional and regional championships in 4A in both ‘16 and ‘17 which kept them in 4A for ‘18 and this past year.
Last season Gibson Southern lost in the 4A sectional title game to Castle which meant they would have had to advance to the 4A state finals three points for winning a semistate) this season to remain in 4A next year.
Except, the IHSAA decided to tweak the rule once again.
Instead of three points over a two-year period, the nice folks in Indianapolis thought it would be better to lower the criteria to just two points.
As a result, Gibson Southern will remain in 4A for at least the next two years due to winning a regional championship.
With this season’s run to the semistate, I can’t foresee the Lady Titans moving back to 3A anytime soon.
But should they?
Is the success factor beneficial?
I look at the success factor in the same point of view as I see the class system as a whole -- it gives the “little guys” a better chance to win a trophy.
And that’s what today’s world is all about nowadays, right? More people winning a trophy!
Do I agree with the success factor?
But I also do not agree with the class system either.
Maybe I just don’t agree with Bobby Cox and Company.
Years ago there were talks about splitting the individual sports such as wrestling, track and field, tennis and golf into two classes as well.
There is still just one class for the aforementioned sports.
Which in my opinion makes Indiana one of the best states around for these sports -- because there are no “asterisks.”
If you make it to state or win a state championship, you are the best in the STATE , not just one of the best.
Maybe that’s just the former wrestler and track athlete in me.
In my “glory days” Mater Dei was always the dominant wrestling team in the state. I believe they won nine straight state championships at one point.
And on the track, it seemed like Terre Haute North or South was always dominating the sectional and regional level.
Anyway...I got off track here.
Success factor...it really only hurts the younger players on the successful teams.
Maybe there’s a really talented freshman or sophomore on the team but is stuck on the junior varsity team for a year or two because they just are not quite good enough to beat out an upperclassmen for the starting spot.
Then once they get their chance to shine -- if they don't transfer out beforehand -- they may not get to experience postseason success because they are competing in a class they really shouldn’t be in just because the fine folks at the IHSAA wants to try and make it more for fair for other teams.
That is not right.
A team should not be punished, per se, for being good.
In the case of the Gibson Southern softball team, I don’t think it will affect them too much. Coach May and his assistants have built a winning culture there and they seem to be destined for success no matter who they line up against.
But other programs who are affected by the success factor are not near as fortunate.
Plus, again back to Gibson Southern, those girls should be out there competing for championships in 3A!
If you ask me, the success factor was a way for Bobby Cox and Company to “punish” private schools for winning titles. Instead of applying an enrollment multiplier to private and parochial schools, lets just make up a rule which will be applied for all successful teams.
Because we would not want to single out just one group of schools, right?
Just my opinion, for what its worth…
Travis David is the Daily Clarion Sports Editor and can be reached at 812-220-4843 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PDCprepsports and @Tdavid_21.