This is a rule that needs to change. Or, at the very least, leave the rule and allow an appeal process whereby someone put on their “common sense” hat. The rule is designed to prevent schools from recruiting athletes. That is a tiny “problem” that might not even be a problem, but that isn’t what is going on here.
A 16-year-old from Oconomowoc is shining light on an issue that is preventing student athletes all over Wisconsin from playing the sports they love this upcoming school year.
It got the attention of a state lawmaker, who is pushing for a new law.
“I couldn’t learn virtually, and my mental health was suffering,” said Blake Thelen. “I knew things had to change and I talked to my parents about it.”
This past January, in the middle of last school year, Thelen transferred from Oconomowoc High School to Lake Country Lutheran, less than 10 miles away, where classes were fully in-person.
“Once I transferred, it was my new home, and I made many friends,” Thelen said. “It’s been much better for me. I still see my friends from Oconomowoc High School, but this is just a better fit.”
But recently, when Thelen tried to sign up for Lake Country Lutheran’s football team, which starts practicing later this summer, he was told he can’t play.
A rule set by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, or WIAA, says if a student athlete chooses to transfer mid school year, he or she can’t play sports at their new school for a full year.
“That rule is designed to prevent schools from forming super teams,” said Republican Senator John Jagler, who represents Wisconsin’s 13 District, which includes Oconomowoc. “Unless you switch schools for a specific reason, like your family changed addresses because of a job change, which there are waivers for. But there is no waiver covering the COVID-19 situation.”
As a side note, I’m hearing a lot of anecdotal examples like this. Churches, schools, favorite coffee shops, etc… the ones that opened to in-person sooner saw people move there in droves. For those that remained closed, they are struggling to get their customer base back.