Wednesday night I was assigned to cover the Southwest High-Serra High opening round of the CIF-San Diego Section Division II girls’ basketball game that pitted No. 5 Serra traveling from the Miramar area of San Diego to face the No. 12 Eagles.
It turned my mind to one of my favorite topics — what I have always perceived as the inherent unfairness of the San Diego Section’s playoff seeding.
It was simple, if you finished first you automatically hosted some other league’s third-place team and logically, finish third and you traveled while second place home teams were determined by a coin toss.
Honestly, Valley schools always seemed to lose the coin toss, or so it seemed, but the concept had all the appearances of fairness.
Then in 1980 Valley schools began joining the San Diego Section and we were introduced to seeding meetings where a committee, the majority of which naturally comes from San Diego County schools, determined your playoff fate based on how the committee perceived your record.
Not just wins and losses, but who you played and who they played and what division they were in and of course who beat who with the higher the seeds getting more home games, well, sort of … it’s a complicated process that I think gives the appearance of unfairness in many situations.
So there I am, watching No. 5 Serra playing at No. 12 Southwest and I had to ask Serra’s athletic director Jonn Pisapia how he felt about it.
Turns out Pisapia was a lot more philosophical than I might have been.
“We didn’t think we’d be lower than fifth,” Pisapia said. “So we were prepared … we had staffing and concessions but we knew the rule … .”
Ah yes, the rule.
That rule says that if a team is a league designee (usually champ or in Southwest’s case, co-champions) it gets to host the game no matter which team is the higher seed.
“Our coach knows the rule … does he like it, no, because even if we win tonight (Serra did) we won’t be home we’ll go to (No. 4) Westview,” Pisapia explained.
Then I talked with Southwest athletic director Mickey Carter about his 15th seeded boys’ basketball team that was the IVL league-designee traveling to play Lincoln High on Tuesday afternoon.
“I was at the meeting as the Southeastern Conference rep,” explained Carter. “What happened was that they were seeded higher than we were and were also league champs so we had to go there.”
In this case justice may have inadvertently been served as Lincoln is not only seeded second in Division II but ranked second overall in CIF and those credentials should probably get you a home game no matter what.
To my thinking though, Serra should have been home too but so should have the two Southwest teams.
Pisapia believes the system may be under review now that CIF has a new commissioner who is apparently reviewing all the CIF policies, both written and unwritten.
Let’s hope that CIF can come up with some type of playoff pairings system that rewards teams for their season’s work while giving the appearance, at least, of a lot more fairness than the current system does.
Is the current system unfair? Carter probably summed it up best.
“I’ve been at baseball seeding meetings for eight years and we have people who think we get hosed,” Carter said. “But we don’t … well we don’t any more than San Diego schools do.”