A quick pass through the WIAA Executive Board meeting in March indicates a district-wide concern about the economics of high school sports. State tourney revenue didn't meet projections due to a decline in 2A and 3A class basketball attendance. However, the wrestling/gymnastics tournament showed an increase.
Travel pooling, league realignments, cutting schedules or middle school sports and state tournament changes were all talked about when district representatives gave their reports.
Here are some areas I highlighted:
Ken Lindgren in District 9 pointed out that revenue at winter tournaments there were up and schools are exploring the possibility of a family ticket. One thing he pointed out was this - when middle level schools eliminated programs as a cost-cutting measure, disciplinary issues and reduced school involvement ensued. Programs were reinstate.
Gonzaga Prep's Al Falkner, representing District 8, said schools here are committed to maintaining all levels of programs including freshmen level teams. He, too, said basketball playoff revenue was up.
Deer Park's Joe Feist of District 7 went on record as saying his district supports the 16-team state tournament and is against change.
Elsewhere across the state, Moses Lake AD Loren Sandhop said there is a concern regarding additional travel when two districts "glue" for the purpose of potential of securing an additional state allocation. He said District 6 may request the WIAA Executive Board to eliminate the policy. Writer's interjection:Does that singnal a move to eliminate regional tournaments that would hurt Spokane area schools?
Other reps talked about travel reduction and reducing the length of seasons at the JV and C Squad levels to save money. In District 4 a new 1B/2B league is forming to include six private and one public school. Henry Karnofski also wondered about the efficacy of 3-referee mechanics, but WIAA head Mike Colbrese said that individual associations cannot overturn the agreement which is a joint WIAA/WOA mandate. And he noted that Kent School District held public meetings to determine cost cutting measures and the community refused to agree to program cuts. League realignment is being undertaken with a focus on reducing travel costs.
District 1's Harlan Kredit said the Northwest League is concerned about fuding and that there is a belief that the WIAA does not recognize and acknowledge the hardships faced by those schools regarding state tournament formats and sites.
Following a summary, District 3's Ed Ploof quoted in the minutes as saying the number one goal of the WIAA Executive Board is to insure the financial stability of the WIAA and to support the financial stability of the member schools. Writer's interjection: Shouldn't that be the other way around? Oh well, let's hope the economy turns - or at least drives people back to following high school sports.