From February 2010 ESPN storyJohn Johnson, Director of Communications and Publications for the Michigan High School Athletic Association

“It is not compatible with the mission of high school athletics. What is the essence of high school sports? To educate. It’s about the time of day, and order of importance in the process.

“If we get too hung up on what our athletic teams do athletically as opposed to what our athletic programs do for our kids and do for our schools, then we’re no better than the AAUs and other third parties which promote these things.”

Nothing has changed much since the above ESPN story ‘Debate over national high school championships rages on‘ from 2010 was published.

This weekend the Dick’s National High School Boys and Girls Basketball Championships are being decided. Eight boys teams competed and four girls teams competed, only one public high school competed in the boys tournament.  The Championships are basically a ‘made for TV’ Invitational tournament.

A ‘true’ National Championship in boys and girls basketball is never going to happen, as long as the National Federation Of State High School Associations and it’s member associations are not on board.  Over 50 different associations, lengths of seasons and State tournaments all run on different schedules and end on different days.  State Associations have enough issues (like private vs. public) within their own membership to worry about a National tournament.  By-laws for most states would have to be changed to ‘suit’ each association member. To get 50 state athletic associations to agree on anything this big is just a ‘pipe’ dream.

Does college basketball have just one National Champion? Most of those who want a National HS Basketball Championship want to be like the NCAA DI round of 64 (68).  But I guess we all need to remember this does not include every level of men’s college basketball, there is DII, DIII, the NAIA has two national championships, the NJCAA has three divisions.

So you want a National Championship for High School?  How about this plan that might  build the groundwork for the future.  This past season MaxPreps separated high school boys basketball rankings for teams that compete for state championships as part of recognized governing body (High School Top 25) and those that do not (Independent Top 10) in state association tournaments.

March 20th – MaxPreps Independent Top 10 Boys Basketball Rankings

1. (last week 1) IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), 26-1
2. (2) La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.), 25-1
3. (3) St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.), 29-4
4. (4) Montverde Academy (Fla.), 23-4
5. (5) Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), 33-3
6. (6) Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), 38-4
7. (7) Westtown (Pa.), 32-2
8. (8) Huntington St. Joseph Prep (W. Va.), 26-4
9. (9) Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.), 33-6
10.(NR) Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasnat Utah)

Keep an eye on: Prolific Prep Academy (Napa, Calif.), Southwest Christian Academy (Little Rock, Ark.), Sunrise Christian Academy Elite (Bel Aire, Kan.) and Wesley Christian (Allen, Ky.)

This is something that can work and it could include every team that meets the Independent criteria. Independent Schools come from all around the USA, can’t get more national than that can you?  You avoid the hassle of state associations and fighting to get those schools to attend.

Tonight the Dick’s National Basketball Championship game features, La Lumiere and Montverde Academy, both rated in the Independent Top 10 at #2 and #4. Of the eight teams that competed this year six are ranked in the Independents as well, Findlay Prep, IMG Academy, Oak Hill Academy and Wasatch Academy. The six are located in Florida (2), Nevada,  Virginia, Indiana and Utah, that covers a lot of the US and would qualify as a National tournament.

Let this group build a national championship, maybe the NFHS would see the value of a tournament as well in the future. The Independent schools need to get behind the plan, it will work and now their team has a true season ending championship with national TV exposure on ESPN.

What do you think, list your thoughts below in the comments section.

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