When high school sports do finally return in Washington, there will be some major changes awaiting them.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Representative Assembly this week voted to pass 18 amendments to its handbook for the 2020-21 academic year.
The biggest changes include adding a two-year trial period for new sports, a reduction from 35 to 30 seconds in the shot clock in boys’ basketball and allowing Class 2B schools to use free and reduced lunch for adjusted enrollment.
In total, the assembly approved 18 amendments. The complete list, including a full-language section, can be found on the organization’s website, wiaa.com.
The 53-member assembly, made up mostly of athletic directors from around the state, meets at this time every year to vote on the amendments, said Casey Johnson, WIAA sports and activities information director. Eighteen of the 23 proposed amendments made the cut.
“This time of year — late April, early May — they vote on these amendments proposed by the membership,” Johnson said.
The addition of a two-year trial period for new sports could open the door for the first new sport in the WIAA since girls’ bowling was added almost 20 years ago.
Sports like lacrosse, rugby, robotics and eSports have attempted to join the WIAA in recent years, but never met approval qualification, Johnson said.
Under the new amendment, if 20 percent of the schools in the WIAA — about 80 schools — show they have the sport and want to do the trial, then the WIAA would treat it as a sanctioned sport for two years.
“If 40 (percent) of the WIAA member schools offer the activity/sport during the second year of the trial, the activity would be sanctioned by the Association,” the amendment reads.
Another change that could immediately affect game play is the shot-clock reduction in boys’ basketball.
The shot clock will go down five seconds, which matches the current clock in the girls’ game. The change should speed up the pace of play.
Another change could affect enrollment classifications. Schools at the 2B level with a free and reduced lunch count greater than the state average will have their average monthly enrollment reduced.
“A school could be moved down only one classification due to its adjusted enrollment,” the amendment reads.
The assembly met in December and January to talk and make small changes to the amendments.
“They talk over these amendments and make small changes to them and perhaps maybe later change them a little bit based on the feedback they’re hearing,” Johnson said.
An important note is the WIAA just organizes the procedure with the actual voting being done by the Representative Assembly.
“The staff has very little involvement in this because the staff can’t propose an amendment,” Johnson said. “The WIAA staff can’t vote, we’re just sort of the facilitators of this whole process.”
Other notable changes coming in 2020-21:
WIAA staff can use video to suspend a player if their behavior warranted an ejection but was unseen by the officials.
1B schools may play six-person football.
Football teams may only allow contact in one of their two-a-day practices.
Volleyball teams may schedule 18 matches, up from 16.
Each wrestler may wrestle in up to six matches in a day, which is more than the five allowed by NFHS rules.
Practices from one sport may be transferred to another sport except football during the same season.
Wiebe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at (208) 883-4624 and on Twitter at @StephanSports.