Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
When Franklin’s Sean McGuire (pictured above) leads the high-powered Saber offense against Milwaukee Pulaski Friday night, it’s a good bet the game like some other first-round playoff matchups will be a one-sided affair leading to a running clock in the second half.
Most readers know I’m not a fan of teams running up the score when a contest gets lopsided. When a blowout breaks out, the running clock goes into effect. It’s a good, not great rule that was recently changed making it worse, in my view.
The old rule in Wisconsin put the running clock in effect when the point differential between the two teams reached 35 points or greater in the second half. If the point differential in the second half became less than 35 points, the normal clock procedures would be used again.
The new rule implemented by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) states with the change in bold:
After the first half any time the score differential reaches 35 points or more, beginning with the ensuing kickoff the following changes, and only these changes, will be made regarding rules determining when the clock will and will not be stopped. The clock will run continuously except for the following situations when it will be stopped:
(1) Timeouts charged to a team.
(2) After a score.
(3) Intermission between 3rd and 4th quarters.
(4) Extended injury time outs.
(5) Any time officials determine it is necessary for safety reasons.
Note: (a) Normal clock operating procedures resume when a team scores to make the differential less than 35 points in the third quarter. The running clock will be maintained in the fourth quarter even if the score differential goes below 35 points.
(b) The use of this rule does not preclude the use of Rule 3-1-3 which reads: “A period or periods may be shortened in any emergency by agreement of the opposing coaches and the referee. By mutual agreement of the opposing coaches and the referee any remaining periods may be shortened at any time or the game may be terminated.”
I’m sure many find this rule to be fair and reasonable. After observing high school football games weekly since 1965 I can tell you that I’ve never, never, never, never seen a team come back from a 35-point or greater deficit to win. I repeat. Never.
That’s why, even though I despise teams pouring it on necessitating a running clock rule, the current set-up doesn’t go far enough. To ensure health and safety, I submit the running clock should take effect during any part of a game when the point differential gets to 35. That means the second quarter, and yes, even the first quarter. Why wait for the second half? Because you’ve got to let the kids play, right? That is until a 9-1-1 call has to be made or fights break out. Health and safety.
Think about it. Team A is leading Team B 35-0 at halftime. The second half starts and after a few minutes Team B scores to make it 35-7. The running clock ends. Team A proceeds to kick a field goal and now leads 38-7. Still no running clock. Team A kicks another field goal. 41-7. Still no running clock. Finally the 3rd quarter ends and now the running clock begins with the start of the 4th quarter. That’s just plain dumb. Team B never stands a chance and Team A wins in a rout.
My suggestion will never fly because those entrusted with running high school sports would argue that’s too early in a game to do away with conventional timing. Again, that rationale is foolish. Teams that win by 50, 60, 70, or in some cases 80 points are never in jeopardy when leading by 35. Coaches will submit they want to get as many players into a game when the score gets out of hand. Oh really? They say they want to, but often I’ve seen them keep their first stringers in until a game is almost over. How do you think the numbers on the scoreboard explode the way they do?
I guess matters could be worse. Kentucky once had a 45-point rule. Now it’s 36. I prefer Georgia’s approach. Their running clock starts with a 30-point margin.