The Difference Between All-Illpolo and All-State
As you notice on the main page this morning or whenever you get a chance to check the site from here on out, there are two main teams listed to recognize the players for their 2006 performances. The first one is All-Illpolo and the second one is All-State. Here is a description as best as I can put it with the pros and cons of each:
The All-Illpolo Teams are selected by Illpolo.com aka Aaron Brown. I do get a ton of feedback from coaches and others to help with selections, but the key factor to these teams is that they are basically MY opinion based mainly on what I saw during the course of the season. Therefore, you can accept them as the definitive list of the best players considering that I probably saw 200+ games this season, or you can write them off saying "well, it's just one person's opinion". And, in all honesty, if it falls somewhere in between those two thoughts, it probably ends up being pretty good. You will notice with All-Illpolo, there is always an extra team or two listed when possible (Fifth, Sixth Team) and/or each team consists of 11-13 players instead of the usual 10 selections made for All-State. The reason for doing this is simple; it allows the best player from a top team to be included in a list of the best players, but also allows for multiple deserving players from the "best of the best" teams as well. And as for the extra team, there are always a ton of deserving players from teams that might either be rebuilding, are relatively new, etc. that have a player or two who should get recognized for their accomplishments.
The All-State Teams are selected by whichever coaches show up to the selection meeting on the Monday after the state tournament. Roughly, you get about 30 coaches or so who attend from each gender, which means that around half of the coaches in the state get to vote. Generally, if a coach does not show up, they do not get to nominate their players and they miss out on their chance to be selected, though there are always a few exceptions to this rule. The next factor here is that a team plays a maximum of 30 games, not including the postseason, but when you consider that most teams play the same opponents 2-3 times per year, that means a coach is limited in the amount of teams and players they get a chance to see.
Now, I need to take a breather since it sounds as if I am only pointing out the negatives of this process...some of the postives include: a coach knows his/her players better than anyone else, so they can nominate them for the teams based on what they have seen day in and day out in practice and at games. Second, in most major sports, teams are selected by the media (i.e. Daily Herald, Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times), but there definitely aren't enough resources, reporters, or anyone who has seen a majority of the teams who can vote or select such a team, so the coaches could be considered the next best option. All-State has also been around for a much longer time than All-Illpolo, so it has always been recognized as the crowning individual achievement. It also includes a strict 10 players per team (unless a tie occurs) amount and has three official teams (First, Second, Third) and a fourth list that is termed 'Honorable Mention'. An argument against both of these policies could be that with more teams participating in the sport and with more exposure being provided, a total number of 40 players on 4 teams does not allow for enough players to get rewarded for their achievements.
This year's breakdown
While the difference is that 20 boys teams are represented on the All-State Team and 23 are listed on the All-Illpolo Team, the major difference is on the girls side, where only 20 teams are represented on the All-State Team and 30 are listed on the All-Illpolo Team. One benefit to players with Illpolo is that their vote or nomination does not depend on their coach attending the meeting.
Another factor is to look at the breakdown of the individual teams. Especially focusing on the top teams, Fenwick's girls won state and got 6 on All-State, while on All-Illpolo, their two-meter defender was also recognized. Next, Stevenson, who lost 3 games in 2006, with all coming against Fenwick, only got an astonishing 3 players on All-State. On All-Illpolo...you can at least double that amount.
Another factor to look at is on the boys side and who makes what team. Fenwick went 35-0 and won the state tournament. They won by a lot. Some might use the word 'domination' to describe their performance. Yet, they only got two players on the All-State First Team. Two other players who most would consider highly deserving of a place on the First Team fell to the Second Team after the voting took place. Conversely, all four players made the All-Illpolo First Team, with another player making the Second Team as well.
I'm sure there are even more ways to breakdown each of these lists but it's 2:00am on a Wednesday and I'm thinking I might need to make some serious changes if I'm doing postseason water polo blog entries instead of sleeping. I miss it already...