Who owns state prep sports?

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Who owns the rights to prep games? Is that sort of like asking who really owns the fire station or the city park?

Like these other public properties, a community really owns the rights to prep games.

So why are state high school sports organizations trying to say they own it all, the premise for a lawsuit brewing in Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, Gannett Company is battling the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association over the right to broadcast postseason athletic events, a fight prompted by the Post-Crescent’s live webcast of a football playoff game last November. These broadcasts are public service, something that enables those in towns like Appleton to listen to a news event they can’t attend.

The WIAA has no more right to limit access to these events than they do to prevent webcasts from a state legislative session or a city council meeting. These sports events are publicly funded and people in these towns have a compelling interest. No? Sports aren’t as important? Okay, then let’s stop funding athletics with our tax dollars. I challenge a public official (especially one who wants to get re-elected) to make that argument.

The Wisconsin athletic association believes it can run state sports like the NCAA runs college athletics, but there are many differences. Most significantly, taxpayers in towns like Appleton, Stevens Point, and Eau Claire directly fund their sports, not the WIAA. Yet, the WIAA wants these taxpaying citizens to relinquish their rights to a group that wants to make a buck off it all.

The WIAA already is attempting to limit access for news photographers, having reached an agreement with a Milwaukee area business to sell photos. That’s the same nonsense going on in Illinois and other states across the country. State athletic associations need to back off. They should support, nurture, organize and promote state athletics  – not control them.

Besides, why do state organizations want this extra money? Who benefits? What are the salaries of those running these organizations? And how much do individual schools or school boards pay to these organizations each year? Someone needs to check this out. You can start by speaking to your local school board, working up from there.

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