On Monday, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) released 10 amendment proposals that will be voted on by the 53-member representative assembly (mainly made up of building and district athletic directors) starting in late April.
If approved – at least 60 percent of the assembly would have to vote in favor of the proposals – the new amendments would go into effect starting in 2021-22.
Here is SBLive WA’s breakdown of three highlighted amendment proposals that could go a ways in shaping the future of high school sports in Washington:
OUT-OF-SEASON COACHING EXPANSION IN FOOTBALL, VOLLEYBALL
WIAA handbook section: 17.5.1.
Exact amendment proposal: “For the purposes of the out-of-season regulations, the WIAA has determined that slowpitch and fastpitch softball; interscholastic/collegiate/folkstyle/USA wrestling, freestyle wrestling, and Greco-Roman wrestling; flag football, 7-on-7 football, sand volleyball and unified sports teams shall be considered separate and distinct sports.”
Author of proposal: Bryan Streleski, Bethel School District athletic director.
Schools that ratified proposal to get on voting ballot: Bellarmine Prep, Bethel, Curtis, Rogers of Puyallup and Sumner.
Biggest pro: Gives football and volleyball players another year-round option to participate in an offshoot of their interscholastic sport with high school coaches and teammates.
Biggest con: Hinders the mission of multi-sport athletes.
Skinny: No slight to volleyball, but this is largely perceived as an amendment that will combat the growing influence of specialized football training and outside 7-on-7 culture.
“These kids play year-round, and if you don’t provide them something, somebody else will,” Bethel football coach Mark Iddins said.
As it stands, the only time high school football coaches can be with their teams during 7-on-7 play is during the “open” summer period – the day after WIAA spring sports end through July.
“I’ve always thought it was awkward that our kids would be coached by themselves, by their dad or choose to spend a lot of money going to a (specialized) outfit,” Sumner football coach Keith Ross said. “This would give us the ability to be with our kids more and build stronger relationships.”
INCREASING THE NUMBER OF REGULAR-SEASON BOYS AND GIRLS BASKETBALL CONTESTS
WIAA handbook section: 30.3.0.
Exact amendment proposal: “Each squad (varsity or sub-varsity) may schedule in up to 20 contests and a jamboree … and one (1) of those contests may be a tournament hosted in Washington or any other NFHS state/province. The tournament will count as one (1) contest provided no more than four (4) tournament contests are played.”
Author of proposal: Dennis Bower, Onalaska High School athletic director and boys basketball coach, and WIAA representative assembly member.
Schools that ratified proposal to get on voting ballot: Camas, Evergreen of Vancouver, Heritage, Kelso, Mossyrock, Mountain View, Onalaska, Skyview, Toledo, Toutle Lake, Union.
Biggest pro: There are boosts athletically and financially, but in a general sense, getting Washington closer to what the rest of the country does in high school basketball is a worthwhile mission.
Biggest con: More games would mean finding more referees – a challenge surely amid today’s alarming decline in high school basketball officials.
Skinny: This is an amendment that is no stranger to the docket – and has failed miserably in previous representative-assembly votes.
Unlike last year, when the proposal focused on increasing the individual regular-season game cap, this plan just expands the definition of what one “contest” can be count for – an entire tournament (up to four games maximum).
It is similarly modeled after the increased-volleyball-match amendment that passed seven months ago.
“The No. 1 argument I’ve heard against this (past amendment proposal) is – ‘Where are you going to fit those extra games in?'” Bower said. “With this, it is likely during a weekend, or in a holiday-tournament setting.”
The perks of adding regular-season games in a tournament format are tangible: Exposure, RPI enhancement and, as Bower points out, lifelong memories.
“All a win, win, win,” Bower said.
ELIMINATING RESTRICTIONS ON SUMMER FOOTBALL PRACTICES
WIAA handbook section: 35.5.1
Exact amendment proposal: Eliminate the rule – “a total of 20 days of summer coaching are allowed, regardless of the number of coaches and/or players involved in any given practice.”
Author of proposal: Jeff Lowell, Bellevue School District athletic director.
Schools that ratified proposal to get on voting ballot: Bellevue, Interlake, Newport of Bellevue, Sammamish, Woodinville.
Biggest pro: Given the fact football teams are already limited to 10 full-padded contact practices, isn’t that enough safety-related infrastructure to eliminate a 20-day practice cap? Some teams meet for purposes other than practices, and don’t want to be penalized for that.
Biggest con: Loosening a restriction could give a “lawless” program reason to skirt other rules meant to protect student-athletes before the summer’s July 31 dead period.
Skinny: Football coaches and administrators have seemingly always wrangled over what is the best approach to player safety in this high-contact sport.
In 2013, the WIAA representative assembly approved the current amendment of not only limiting teams to 10 summer full-padded contact practices – but 20 practices overall.
Should the pendulum now partially swing back to the original way of limitless team gatherings?
“I would love the flexibility,” Eastlake football coach Don Bartel said. “It is a great way to match the needs of your kids and your program.”