By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Apr 29, 2008 at 5:00 AM

I generally favor kids enjoying sports and not taking the whole thing too seriously. What that mainly means is to keep adults out of kids' games and let the kids have their fun.

I was struck by the intrusion of adults in kids' games once again when I heard about the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association's annual meeting dealing with some of the so-called horrors that threaten kids.

It seems like the WIAA is very afraid of elite sports programs and teams.

There are a growing number of teams and programs for kids who obviously have special skills. In some cases, kids are leaving their local high school sports programs to participate in these elite state, regional and national teams.

Doug Chickering, who seems to have been the head of the WIAA since David used a slingshot to hit Goliath, says he is very worried about these teams.

"If people want to siphon off the elite ... we're going to have to find some ways to counter that," Chickering was quoted as telling the recent annual meeting of the WIAA.

"If we're going to maintain the influence we have in schools and the games that these kids play, we're going to have to take care of this ... If we want everyone to take part in high school athletics, not just the elite, we're going to have to (address this)."

What that means, of course, is the WIAA is going to develop more rules. Just what we need.

What we really ought to do, and I only say this because disbanding the WIAA is probably a futile dream, is to cut the number of WIAA rules by, say, 99.9 percent.

I'm not about to run down a list of ridiculous WIAA rules. But many of them are just another example of adults wanting to maintain control over the lives of kids, a philosophy that I think is pretty stupid.

The WIAA ought to have some control over eligibility and it should probably have some sort of regulations for scheduling. Prohibiting bribery is probably a good idea, along with punishing kids who are convicted of felonies.

I favor getting rid of the rules and regulations that seem to make no sense.

For example, the WIAA has rules about kids playing during the off-season or having contact with coaches during the off-season. What the heck difference does it make? Sports at the high school level can keep kids engaged in a healthy activity. Many kids need to have some positive guidance during the entire year, not just during the soccer season, for example.

With funds for school districts drying up, I don't see anything wrong with allowing local merchants to become sponsors of high school athletic teams. The Sendik's Shorewood Greyhound girls' soccer team. Or the Tom's Bar Boscobel Bulldogs boy's wrestling team. Schools hold fundraisers for everything from cheerleading to togas for the Latin Club. Why not let sponsors slap their names on the thing and give up badly needed funds? Would that somehow corrupt these athletes (or Latin scholars for that matter)?

As far as the select teams in sports like soccer and basketball, who in the world wants the WIAA involved in whether it's OK for kids to play on those teams? Nobody. The number of kids from Wisconsin who make these select teams is very small. And it's a real honor for those kids who do.

But rather than celebrating the selection of these kids and making it easier for them to flourish as competitive athletes, the WIAA views the whole thing as a threat and is going to try to figure out how to fight these special teams.

Somebody needs to see the WIAA as a threat and figure how to get it out of high school sports in this state.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.