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Jason Schmitt is the editor of, the high school sports website for The Oakland Press. He has served as the sports editor for a number of newspapers, including the Daily Tribune in Royal Oak and the Macomb Daily in Mount Clemens. In his time in the industry, he has covered every high school sport and has served a a beat writer for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls tennis, hockey, wrestling, bowling and cross country.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

More east-side representation needed in polls

I'm not going to research this. I'm just going to speak off the cuff. Whether that's a good thing or not, we shall see.
We ran some information on MIPrepZone today, showing just who gets a vote in the weekly AP boys and girls basketball polls. Larry Lage at The Associated Press does a great job of trying to work with newspapers/media outlets from around the state, trying to get a balanced perspective of which teams should/should not be ranked each week - in both football and boys and girls basketball.
But schools throughout metro Detroit are woefully underrepresented. Of the 40 voting positions for boys and girls basketball, just four come from newspapers from within Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. Yet - and I haven't done the exact math - these counties rank 1-2-4 in total number of high schools in the state. They make up approximately 20-25 percent of the state's high school teams. But they have just 10 percent of the voting representation for the AP polls?
Good for Tom Markowski and Dave Goricki (x2) from the Detroit News. And thanks to The Oakland Press's own Matthew B. Mowery who, when not chasing down breaking offseason news from the Detroit Tigers, takes time away from his beat to research and provide a vote for the Class A girls poll.
But these three are the only writers who provide a voice for Southeast Michigan and its 160-plus high schools. The central Michigan area (Lansing State Journal, Mount Pleasant Morning Sun, Big Rapids News and Livingston County Daily Press & Argus) has 11 of the 40 votes. The west side of the state (Grand Rapids Press, Muskegon Chronicle, Holland Sentinel, Kalamazoo Gazette) has eight votes. The Upper Peninsula (Houghton Mining Gazette, Escanaba Daily Press, Soo Evening News) has six. Northern Lower Peninsula (Traverse City Record Eagle, Cadillac News) has four, as does Southern Michigan (Sturgis Journal has all four).
Finally, the thumb area (Saginaw News, Midland Daily News) has just three.

The voting representation
Central Michigan - 11
Western Michigan - 8
Upper Peninsula - 6
Southeast Michigan - 4
Northern LP - 4
Southern Michigan - 4
Thumb area - 3

Now let me point out, I'm not bashing the voters. They generally do a fine job with what little resources they have or direct knowledge of eligible teams. The reason I'm bringing this all up is that the state released the names of voters - most likely for transparency's sake. Someone must have wanted to know who the voters were, otherwise why release them?
Perhaps it's not as easy as one would think - trying to find available and willing voters. If that is the case, then they should all be commended for taking the time to commit themselves to the process.
It would be nice, however, to include a couple more writers from this part of the state.


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