According to a story in the Green Bay Press Gazette this week, a week 7 high school football matchup between defending Fox River Classic Conference champion Ashwaubenon and rival Bay Port would have reached one of the ESPN family stations, if the game could have been switched to this Sunday.
ESPN was willing to televise the game live on one of its stations in part because of the matchup between two future NCAA Division I quarterbacks in Ashwaubenon’s James Morgan (Bowling Green) and Bay Port’s Alec Ingold (Northern Illinois).
Bay Port was scheduled to play De Pere and Ashwaubenon was set to play Green Bay Preble in Week 1. But the schools got the OK from their opponents to make the switch, allowing the Redbirds and Hornets to meet in Week 1. With all four schools in agreement, the only other thing to do was to get the approval of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA).
But the Wisconsin high school governing body refused to sign off. The WIAA has a rule that a school can’t play two football games in one calendar week during the regular season. Both teams are scheduled to play the following Friday.
The problem is the WIAA doesn’t like being told by another party when a game should be played.
WIAA communications director Todd Clark told the Press Gazette, “When you’re telling somebody to break a membership rule, we just can’t do that. We’d love the exposure that it is going to get, but we have to do it within the confines of the rules.”
Bay Port athletic director Otis Chambers said he was optimistic at the time that the schools would be able to get a WIAA waiver because of the circumstances. Chambers told the newspaper, “We were disappointed it didn’t happen. We thought it would have been great for the state of Wisconsin, the FRCC and both schools involved.”
The WIAA for years, would open their postseason playoffs on a Tuesday night. The winners would play just 4-days later in Level 2 action. It’s OK for schools to play in the same calendar week when it suits the WIAA. But try to get a waiver for something that doesn’t start from inside the brain trust of the WIAA, forget it.
The WIAA said they would have been OK if ESPN would have recorded the game on Friday and ran it Sunday on a tape delay. Are you kidding? When everybody knows the outcome, it doesn’t have the same effect.
Television dictates when certain games are played at the professional ranks and the same goes for college athletics. ESPN was willing to air a live Wisconsin High School football game. They just wanted to pick the date and time.
The WIAA has to look out for its membership. But when the membership is ready to move forward, at what point does the WIAA need to let go of some of its archaic rules and catch up with the rest of us. Just because it wasn’t their idea, doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea. The WIAA needs to check its ego at the door. The answer doesn’t always have to be NO.