Chapman belongs to the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC). Its name is complicated, and so are some of the rules that govern the conference.
Since Chapman joined the conference in 2011, a number of those rules have changed.
Some changes, like those in water polo, have made sense. This season, the conference changed the sport’s playoff system to a top four-team system, mirroring its system for soccer, volleyball and basketball. The conference schedule was also doubled from eight games to 16, so each team played twice. Previously, every team made the playoffs, so the regular season only mattered for playoff seeding.
Other changes, like shortening the men’s soccer season from 16 games to 14 this year, are puzzling. For Chapman, it meant playing once at the University of Redlands – where it hasn’t won since 2011 – and once at home against Occidental College, while playing every other team twice.
It’s unclear what purpose this change served, but it could cause confusion in the future, because head-to-head tiebreakers wouldn’t be clear for all teams.
One rule that somehow remains unchanged is football’s championship-sharing policy. Had the team lost this week and had Redlands won its last two games, Chapman would have had to share the conference championship, despite beating Redlands Oct. 14.
“We had no interest in sharing,” said captain and senior running back Diano Pachote after the Nov. 4 game that secured Chapman’s championship outright. “I was going to die on that field before we were going to share anything with Redlands.”
But neither Chapman nor any other team who secures the title should have to worry about sharing it.
Each team plays once. If two teams are tied in first place, the championship should go to the team that beat the other one. The NCAA already recognizes this; Chapman was given a berth to the NCAA College Football Championship after beating California Lutheran University Oct. 28, while the SCIAC still left the door open for Redlands to get a share of the title, despite their loss to Chapman.
It’s baffling that the SCIAC doesn’t use a head-to-head tiebreaker model for football. It already uses this in women’s volleyball, which is how Chapman’s women’s volleyball team made the playoffs this season.
Football, at least at the college level, is a strictly win or lose sport. The fact that the conference allows for a championship tie is illogical.
There’s a reason you didn’t see quarterbacks Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons both holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl 51 this year. It’s the same reason the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t celebrate together after both winning the World Series last week. A championship isn’t meant to be shared.
The term “champion” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a winner of first prize or first place in competition.” It doesn’t say “first places” for a reason.
The idea that a championship can somehow be shared diminishes its importance.
The drama and interest of sports centers on the fact that at the end of the season, one team is crowned champion. When you have two teams holding that title, it devalues the season as a whole, and the SCIAC needs to change that.