Competitive Inequality

Kevin Cullen and Conner Lusk

Going into the state playoffs last year, the Vikings football team was surprised as they were seeded to Division III of the state tournament. In previous years, Paly had been a D1 team, but with the new seeding, the size of a school no longer matters, only their season record. Last year, the boys and girls basketball teams saw this change as well, but only in seeding for the state playoffs. This change comes in order to create closer, more interesting games. Instead of schools being seeded based on their rank within a range of school sizes, the new seeding ranks solely on their record and strength of schedule. 

The 2019-2020 football season showed two sides of the same coin for the new competitive equity rulings. On one side, we have the Milpitas Trojans: Division IV state champions, and fourth in the De Anza League (behind Wilcox, Los Gatos, and Palo Alto). In previous years, being fourth in the De Anza league would have pinned you at the bottom of the Division I playoff bracket with an unfavorable matchup, to say the least. With perennial powerhouse leagues such as the De Anza, West Catholic, and Peninsula, it was very difficult for teams who didn’t dominate their league to ascend higher than the lowest seed within the top divisions. In the most recent season, with the redesigned playoffs, Milpitas was the top seed in the Division IV bracket, despite a mediocre performance in league play. Albeit, Division IV does not boast the same prestige as Division II, yet Milpitas still added a state champion trophy to the ranks of school accolades. Flip to the other side of the coin and you have the Half Moon Bay Cougars. With a 10-0 record heading into the playoffs, the Cougar football team had high spirits as well as expectations for success. This was until they learned that they were seeded lowest in the Division I CCS bracket against notorious power house, Junipero Serra. Their season came to what many believe to be a premature end, as they were defeated by Serra 42-14. Without the competitive equity rules in place, these two teams would be in completely different brackets based not only off of the disparity in school size, but also in the ability for private school recruitment. The new playoff rules allowed for this seemingly David vs. Goliath matchup and a disappointing end to a very promising season for the Half Moon Bay Cougars.  

But does competitive equity make lower division championships less valuable? Viking says yes. In 2006 when the Vikings won their Division II state championship in basketball, they established themselves as the best school in California with between 1,500 and 2,000 students since this was how decisions were established before the change. If this Vikings team were to have won Division II under the new seeding, this state championship would have meant that they were only the 81st best team in California. As we can see, by seeding using competitive equity, the value of lower division championships become more and more irrelevant. At Viking we believe that CCS and CIF should vere away from competitive equity inorder to preserve the prestige of a section and state title.