This past fall and winter I wrote up a state constitution and guidelines for the Seattle area high schools that currently play ultimate and for any future Washington State schools that are going to join in the sport. Many of the issues were pretty straightforward, but there were a few that needed a fair amount of communication, revision, and voting to make sure everyone had input in the process.
One of these rules was the “Double Dip” rule that prevents high school athletes from playing two separate sports at their school at the same time. The Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), which is our state governing body for most high school sports, but not yet for ultimate, has a “double dip” rule they call “18.21.0 – Concurrent Sports Limitation.” There are exceptions to the rule for the smallest school classifications, but none of those schools is currently playing high school ultimate.
There are a number of reasons a “Double Dip” rule is needed in high school ultimate.
Being able to double dip is unfair to the schools that have done the work to be officially recognized as a sport at their school. This is the case for the majority of the schools in our leagues, a number of which have players who chose other sports over ultimate.
Even the teams that aren’t officially recognized by their school would have to be careful that they don’t inadvertently cause their athletes who double dip to break WIAA rule 18.22.4: “Schools may not give students special treatment or privileges on a regular basis to enable them to participate in non-school athletic activities, such as reduced practice times, special workouts, late arrivals, or early dismissals.” An athlete violating this rule could cause their varsity high school team to have to forfeit all the wins in which the athlete participated.
Another reason for “Double Dip” rule is that it is horribly unfair to any participants of a team that actually show up for practices who then lose playing time to the “double dipping” player. A significant reason why high school sports exist is to teach about commitment and hard work. A player who just shows up for games or regularly misses practices is setting the wrong example. This is one of the main reasons that athletic administrators cite for having this rule.
Lastly, when a player is “double dipping” it can make it significantly harder to schedule ultimate games when trying to take into account two different sports teams. This can create a hardship for other schools and cause a lot of extra work for the organizers.
The “Double Dip” rule we crafted, after a number of drafts and an open and transparent process, has two caveats that are designed to help new programs get established. Below is our Washington State High School Ultimate Association (WSHSUA) rule:
Player Double Dip Rule
WSHSUA considers all teams to be school sports at their respective school regardless of whether they are recognized by their school as full varsity/JV, club varsity/JV, or as a non-sports club. All members of the ultimate team are limited to only participating one sport at their school by WSHSUA rule. If you play on the ultimate team you cannot also play another sport at the school during the same season. This also includes the provision that if you play on the ultimate team at a school you cannot play another sport at another school. This rule allows for a player to move between the varsity and JV in the ultimate program. This rule does not cover playing club sports that are in leagues/associations that don’t have school teams participating.
Exception to the player double dip rule:
a. Student athletes can play JV while playing another sport at the school. It is recognized that this is an allowance that needs to be made in order to build up programs.
b. A school in the first two years of a program can have student athletes double dipping at the varsity level. It is recognized that this is an allowance that needs to be made in order to build up programs. All players who are double dipping at the varsity level should be on an eligibility list submitted to the league coordinator.
The exceptions to the rule are designed to help build programs at schools that are new to ultimate, though those new school ultimate teams still need to make sure their players are not violating WIAA rules.
As ultimate continues to grow and continues to fight for respect and recognition as a true high school sport, this is one of the rules that will be commonplace in high school ultimate.
Feature photo by Burt Granofsky (UltiPhotos.com)