Per the WIAA today, varsity basketball will now have a mercy rule. From their release:
"[The WIAA]...will apply a mercy rule for varsity games during the regular season and throughout the Tournament Series beginning in 2013-14. A running clock will be implemented once the point differential reaches 40 points at any time after the conclusion of the third quarter unless a timeout is called. Regardless if the score differential subsequently dips below 40 points, the running clock remains in effect until the conclusion of the game."
Also changing: 3-person officiating crews for the entire WIAA Tournament. Still no shot clock, but a mercy rule is a pretty big step.
From my perspective, a mercy rule is good. Blowouts are completely pointless in terms of teaching anybody anything about the game of basketball; it's mostly reserves earning minutes in "varsity" as a reward for sticking with it. Often times, a blowout that large indicates an under-manned opponent. I did a game between Regis and Stanley-Boyd last year where the flu and numbers had knocked the number of available players for the Orioles down to 6. One of those players had to sit out over half the game in the locker room because he was so sick, and by the end, two players had their fourth fouls with four minutes still to play. That isn't competitive, and it sure as heck isn't teaching anybody anything useful. So good on the WIAA to implement this. It will probably only impact a small percentage of games, but maybe we won't see 98-point blowouts (like what Cadott did to Lake Holcombe last year). If we do, it's even more inexcusable for the winning team to run up the score like that.
The flip side is that kids want to play in games, and this limits how much time they may get in. As the worst player in the history of high school basketball, if Flambeau led by 30-40 points, it was Jimmie time; I was the human victory cigar (or, when we were getting our asses kicked, the human white flag of surrender). So my heart does go out to those of us who just like sports, no matter how bad we are at them, that lose out on some PT in those situations. But again--all I learned in those minutes was that I'm really good at picking up fouls and dribbling awkwardly with my left hand. Oh, and bricking threes.
Some of the other rule changes apply to hockey, gymnastics, and wrestling. For the full release, go here and go to news to find out more.