KSHSAA executive board rejects proposal to delay start of fall sports seasons

photo by: Mike Yoder/Journal-World File Photo

In this file photo from Monday, June 2, 2014, Lawrence High School football players run through drills during summer camp.

A motion to delay the start of fall high school sports competitions in Kansas failed by a vote of 5-4 during Tuesday’s meeting of the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s executive board.

As a result, all fall sports and activities programs will be allowed to start practices on Aug. 17 and to move forward with their regularly scheduled competitions.

Local school boards, however, will still be able change sports schedules within their own districts. Lawrence school board members haven’t discussed taking any action on the fall sports seasons yet, but on Monday the board approved delaying the start of the school year until after Labor Day and beginning it with at least six weeks of remote learning.

At Tuesday’s KSHSAA meeting, in addition to either delaying fall sports or going ahead with them as scheduled, the KSHSAA executive board also had the option of using different start dates for different classifications of schools, canceling the fall postseasons or canceling fall sports and activities altogether.

KSHSAA staff specifically recommended that the executive board divide the fall sports into “low-risk” and “high-risk” categories, with football, volleyball, gymnastics and boys soccer falling into the high-risk category. Under the recommended plan, both categories still would have started practices on Aug. 17, but the high-risk sports would not be able to start competition before Sept. 8.

But some members of the board had reservations about having vastly different schedules for different sports or schools in different classifications. Board member Deena Horst, who voted for delaying the start of the fall seasons, said it was important to keep the start dates somewhat similar throughout the state “so that everyone knows what’s available and what’s happening.”

“Flexibility is probably going to be the name of the game,” Horst said.

And board member Shannon Haydock said he “would like to see us just streamline the proposal that lets us get started and start competing as soon as we can.”

Not all local fall sports schedules were available online Tuesday night, but Free State and Lawrence High are scheduled to open the 2020 football seasons on Sept. 4. All but two of the nine sports with fall schedules available online are slated to begin before Sept. 8.

The KSHSAA’s vote on Tuesday followed the organization’s release last week of sport-specific guidelines and considerations for the upcoming seasons. Bill Faflick, KSHSAA’s executive director, reminded the board at the end of the meeting that those guidelines remained a critical part of the association’s strategy to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All of the considerations that were provided to member schools are still in place and are still expected to be followed (so we can) do our very best to mitigate the risk of exposure to those that are in our facilities,” Faflick said of the documents that outlined best practices for social distancing, hygiene, equipment maintenance and competition.

Of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., Faflick said 27 had made no changes to their fall sports schedules as of Tuesday, while 24 had modified their fall schedules in some manner. Six of them had already pushed the fall football seasons to the spring.


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