STEVENS POINT – Is it time to push back the start of the spring sports seasons?
Count Mike Daniels among those who support the idea. The Slinger athletic director, frustrated by another Wisconsin spring that has been marred by cold conditions, is through fighting Mother Nature.
He made his feelings clear during the open forum portion of the WIAA’s annual meeting Wednesday at the Holiday Inn.
“I’m tired of battling,” he said. “She’s proven to be the winner.”
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As Daniels returned to his seat, he received a standing ovation from many of the 400-plus athletic directors in attendance. While the ovation was light-hearted, the moment did strike a chord.
“I have not been to a single game where the conversation with an umpire, with a coach, with a player, with a parent, hasn’t started with ‘Why are we doing this’. ‘This is awful’. ‘This is not fun,” South Milwaukee athletic director Ante Udovicic said.
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Poor spring weather in late March and throughout April is common in the Wisconsin. The difference this year is memories of how well the season went last year, when the WIAA adjusted its sports calendar because of the pandemic.
Last year the spring season started April 19. That was a month to five weeks later than usual. The campaigns ended a couple of weeks later than usual. The state tournament for softball and baseball started in the final week of June.
Udovicic and Daniels would like to see the WIAA adopt a later start to the spring sports season. The matter will be discussed further at the area meetings in the fall.
“Our baseball schedule, the only way we’re getting games in is by having five-inning double-headers,” Udovicic said. “It’s impossible. I’m being told by my assigners, don’t both scheduling any lower-level makeups of games that rain out. We will not have umpires. The number of issues we have in the spring sports dwarfs the issues we have in the other sports.”
The matter will be discussed further at the annual meetings in September, but the a key argument against pushing the season back has been conflict it could create with the club seasons for baseball, soccer and softball. The games played for those clubs often expose the players to college recruiters.
“I think it is a conversation we need to revisit,” WIAA executive director Stephanie Hauser said, “but you’re going to have to ask yourself does it mean we want to go back and do it how we did it last year or do you want to have a realistic conversation about condensing the spring or condensing the tournament series, finding a way to not push so deeply into the summer.”
Spirit of Sport Award
Wisconsin Lutheran senior basketball player Jordan Glenn was on hand to receive the WIAA’s Spirit Award. Glenn suffered sudden cardiac arrest during a game his junior season but returned to action this year to earn all-state distinction and help the Vikings win a share of the Woodland West title.
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Milwaukee branch of WIAA
On May 1, the WIAA will open a branch of its office in the Milwaukee area, the portion of the state where the greatest number of WIAA schools are located. The office will be the base of assistant director Levar Ridgeway, the former athletic director at Shorewood.
Shot clock talk
The WIAA plans to send a survey to its schools to find out where the membership stands on the shot clock.
Last May the National Federation of State High School Associations voted to allow states to use the shot clock. Since then Iowa and Minnesota have adopted the shot clock to bring the total nationally to 10.