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The Student News Site of Mineral Point High School

Pointer Media

WIAA Competitive Balance Initiative: Denying Teams Opportunity or Evening the Playing Field?


January 4, 2023

Recently, the WIAA passed the competitive balance initiative to “level the playing field” in high school sports. However, many coaches and players are upset with this rule because they feel it does not truly give teams a fair shot at state titles.

The initiative works like this: teams will receive “points” after specific achievements and will be moved up a division if they received a total of 6 points in the past three years. Points will be “awarded” (though many coaches argue that it is more of a punishment) to teams based on the set qualifications for their sport. In bracketed sports, teams will receive 4 points for a state title, 3 points for advancing to the championship game, 2 points for advancing to the state semifinal, and 1 point for advancing to the state quarterfinal or sectional final. Non-bracketed sports will have different qualifications. Golf, Gymnastics, and Cross Country will receive 4 points for a state title, 3 points for state runner-up, 2 points for placing 3rd or 4th place at the state meet or for Sectional Champion, and 1 point for qualifying for the state meet.

As far as Pointer Athletics is concerned, one of our sports teams has racked up enough points in the last three years to be moved up a division and another one has a high possibility of obtaining these points yet this year. After a state championship, a state runner-up, and a fourth-place finish at state, the Dodge-Point girls cross country team has accumulated a grand total of 9 points, the second highest out of all Wisconsin girls cross country teams. After a trip to state and a state runner-up, the Mineral Point boys golf team is sitting at 5 points, just one point shy of moving from D3 to D2. For both teams, their respective sports feature only 3 divisions, which can make quite a difference when it comes to enrollment size. Our beloved small-town sports teams will be forced to compete at higher-level D1 schools that are often triple or quadruple the size of our school.

Not only will small school teams have to compete against large school teams, but the small school teams will also have to compete against extremely talented and high level large school teams such as the Muskego girls cross country team. This D1 team has captured two back-to-back state titles and will have no consequence for their success as there is no higher division for them to move to. If you are curious, Muskego High School has 1,676 students enrolled this year, which is about 419 per grade and almost seven times as many students as Mineral Point.

Coaches and athletes alike have protested the initiative and taken to the media to voice their concerns. Coach John Gard of the Green Bay Notre Dame cross-country teams has discussed in an interview with the Green Bay Press Gazette his view on the issue at hand. He voiced his concerns about the fact that many boys and girls cross country teams will share the same coach while the two teams may be in different divisions, which is the position Dodge-Point cross country will be in next fall. As coach of a private school, Gard even goes as far as to say that he and his team will accept the punishment but the WIAA should not be punishing small-town public schools. He also points out Dodge-Point as a team receiving unjust punishment for the successes of present and past runners as he stated in the Green Bay Press Gazette, “…these kids down at little Dodgeville/Mineral Point, they are really good kids. They do not deserve the punishment that the WIAA is sticking to them.”

Many teams that have been moved up also have to face the fact that they aren’t as good as they were three years ago. While the coaching staff plays a large role in teams’ successes, we have to understand that there are superstars that come along and greatly propel teams to the state level and state podiums. As it has been pointed out, many programs are not the same as they were three years ago, yet they are facing punishments from the superior athletes that came before them.

While the WIAA had high hopes for this initiative, it already looks like it may crash and burn. No teams besides the unaffected D1 teams are happy with the decision, and it looks like small-town public schools will not be going down without a fight.

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About the Contributor
Regan Schuette
Senior Regan Schuette is a second-year. This year as a sports writer, she will focus on cross country. Next year, Regan hopes to attend UW-LaCrosse to become a high school math teacher.
Here is a little more about her.
Favorite food: pretzels
Favorite movie: Where the Crawdads Sing
Favorite celebrity: Craig Engels
Favorite song: Look What You Made Me Do
Favorite TV show: Modern Family
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Comments (1)

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    Amanda ChenaultMar 5, 2024 at 8:36 am

    Why don’t they consider just categorizing schools according to their school district size? I know this is not as simple as it sounds but the reality is that schools should compete against schools with a similar talent pool to choose from. A small school in a larger community that can pull kids in from that larger community should not compete against a school of similar enrollment size from a much smaller community with a much smaller recruiting pool. Just a thought.