It doesn’t happen often, but I will go to the mat for the WIAA as it pertains to the Appleton Xavier/Little Chute decision.
If you need a refresher or a first exposure to this high school basketball story, check it out HERE
I’ll state my defense as succinctly as possible, for I believe the WIAA has done a solid job of keeping this one simple, and for good reason. The rule is as straightforward as it gets - no room for interpretation. From the WIAA rules of eligibility:
A student-athlete in a given sport may not compete in that same sport outside of school either as a team member or an individual or independent entry during the same time he/she is participating with the school team. Violation of this rule results in loss of eligibility for the remainder of the season (including the WIAA tournament series).
I wish all of our society’s regulations could be so clear.
The rule exists for many reasons, not the least of which is to protect the kids from burning themselves out. But arguably the greatest reason for the regulation is to keep big business, for lack of a better phrase, at a distance. That is to say, it aims to prevent outside interests from harvesting these kids for their own gains, simultaneously providing a deterrent to the kids to taking the bait.
I share in the frustration of the rule’s broad sweeping stroke. It takes a kid out of a church league or out of a charitable event, but to create multiple rules for multiple scenarios only serves to open multiple loopholes.
I feel terribly for the kid and for his teammates, but I'll say it again - the rule is simple and the rule is no secret. It's covered every year in the athletic code of every high school. And every student-athlete is required to sign that code prior to participation.