New WIAA rules under consideration

Commentary: Tim Martinez

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor



When a lot of people think of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, they think of one guy — executive director Mike Colbrese — wielding supreme power over high school sports in the state.

And if they don’t think that, then they think of a small group of people up in Renton dropping the law on prep sports.

The truth is something different. The WIAA is a representative body, and if rules are to be changed, they must be voted upon by the members.

And that process is happening now. A selection of rules proposals have been submitted and the WIAA representative assembly is reviewing those proposals before casting votes on them later this month.

In high schools sports, the WIAA representative assembly is a 35-member group of high school administrators from around the state. The two local members of the assembly are Cale Piland, the athletic director for Evergreen Public Schools, and Albert Alcantar, athletic director for Vancouver Public Schools.

In order for an amendment to be passed, 60 percent of the representative assembly must vote to approve.

So let’s take a look at a couple of the rule proposals that are under consideration this year.

Football opt-up

Currently, schools have the option of opt-up into a higher classification. But when a school chooses to do this, it must move all of its sports to that higher classification. There is a proposal up for vote this year that would allow schools the option to opt-up, or opt-down, in football only.

Football is sport much different than others in that it depends significantly on the number of players who turn out. And often, that number does not coincide with the overall school enrollment.

Under this proposal, if you are a 2A school but you think your football team could compete well at 3A, you could opt-up in football while leaving the rest of the athletic program at 2A. It would also give schools the option to petition to opt-down in football.

There are two nearly identical proposals up for consideration this spring — one would apply to all schools, the other would just apply to 2B and 1B schools.

There is a significant difference between 2B and 1B football. At 2B, teams play 11-man football. At 1B, they play eight-man football.

There may be some 1B schools that feel they get the turnout to play 11-man football. Similarly, there are some 2B schools that feel they struggle with turnout and would rather play eight-man.

The purpose of the two proposals is that if there isn’t enough support among the larger schools to pass this proposal, then a proposal that just applies to the B schools could stand a better chance to pass.

Basketball tournaments

For the most part, high school basketball teams are limited to 20 regular-season games. But a proposal would allow teams to count games played during regular-season tournaments at a reduced rate, allowing teams to potentially play as many at 22 regular-season games.

Under the proposal, teams that play in three- or four-day tournaments would only have two games counted toward their 20-game limit. Two-day tournaments would only count as one.

The purpose of this proposal is that some schools play in leagues so large that league play can eat up 16 of their 20-game allotment, leaving little room for tournaments and non-league games.

Counting tournaments at a reduce rate would create more opportunities for teams to play games outside of their league and perhaps improve their RPI ranking. Several other states have rules that count tournaments differently than single games.

Early start for pitchers

Another proposal would allow pitchers and catchers in baseball and softball to begin practices for the season two weeks earlier than the normal practice start date.

The idea here is to allow pitchers more time to get their arms in pitching condition for the season.

The drawback to this proposal is that it would provide an advantage to pitchers and catchers who either don’t play a winter sport, or whose winter sports season ended early.

There are other proposals, and you can look at all of them and even share your opinions on them at the WIAA’s website.

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4538, or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.