KSHSAA approves parent spectators for winter sports

Printed cut outs of fans watch from the stands.  The Hugoton Lady Eagles defeated the Hays Lady...
Printed cut outs of fans watch from the stands. The Hugoton Lady Eagles defeated the Hays Lady Indians by a score of 47 to 26 in the opening night of the 38th Annual Gerald Mitchell Hays City Shootout held at Hays High School in Hays, Kansas on December 3, 2020. (Photo: Joey Bahr, www.joeybahr.com)(Joey Bahr | (Photo: Joey Bahr, www.joeybahr.)
Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 10:48 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020: The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) Board of Directors voted Tuesday to allow some fans back in the stands to support high school and middle school athletes, 54-24.

The board voted to allow up to two parents or guardians per participant(s) family beginning December 10 through January 28, 2021. This means a maximum of two spectator tickets will be allotted to each family. So, if a team has two brothers playing and a sister cheerleading, they only get two tickets instead of six.

Participants include cheerleaders and band members.

Local boards of education or local health departments can restrict attendance to only one spectator ticket or none if they see fit.

Update Friday, Dec. 4, 2020

The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) Board of Appeals on Friday voted 7-1 to ask the association’s board of directors to revisit the winter-sports spectator ban with the consideration of allowing one or two parents to attend games. The appeals board is ultimately suggesting that the KSHSAA Board of Directors determine a final alternative to the ban if the vote prohibiting fans from winter sports contests is overturned.

The KSHSAA Board of Directors meeting of 78 members happens at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8 to revisit the “fan ban” and to vote on further action to either keep the restriction in place or to alter it.

KSHSAA Executive Director Bill Faflick, on behalf of the association, outlined four primary reasons for not allowing fans for the winter sports season. The first, he said, is that indoor gatherings are risker when it comes to the threat of spreading COVID-19 and are discouraged by the KSHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Board. The second is the overall statewide increase of COVID-19 cases. There also comes an increased risk for adults to get sick, not just the students competing. With its decision, Faflick said KSHSAA wanted to minimize exposure so that athletes can finish out their seasons without the added risk of canceling games.

Four appellants who spoke before the board on Friday argued that a one-size-fits-all plan does not work for the entire state and that local government and health officials should make those limitations on sports. Parents who weighed in argued that there is a greater liability if a child gets injured during a game and a parent can’t be there to assist. They say it’s different than if a parent chooses not to attend.

Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020

For much of the winter-sports season, high school gyms across Kansas will look different during basketball games and wrestling meets. The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) decided to prohibit spectators from winter sports events until the end of January. The decision is intended as a safety measure against the spread of COVID-19, but it’s one that is not sitting well with some parents who believe fans can safely support the high school athletes in the winter, as they were able to do so in the fall.

The KSHSAA Board of appeals is meeting Friday (Dec. 4) to hear from parents who want the winter sports crowd ban overturned.

“I felt like the football season had gone really well. It was just a little disheartening to see some of the pictures from some of the different class championship games,” said Kim Anciaux, parent of two student-athletes at Kapaun Mount Carmel.

After seeing the crowds of fans at the state football championship games last weekend, Anciaux wonders why KSHSAA is banning fans from winter sports season.

“A lot of the talk was just, let the kids play, it’s about the kids. The other piece of that is not allowing people to watch them right now. So obviously people are passionate about that topic and want to revisit that,” KSHSAA Assistant Executive Director Jeremy Holaday said.

Holaday said the KSHSAA has received about six official grievances from parents and a few from schools, which is what the board of appeals will review Friday before giving its recommendation to the association’s board of directors to vote on next week.

“You can count emails, phone calls, or social media interactions, so obviously quite a few on both sides: in support of and in opposition of the vote,” he said of parent and school responses to the absence of winter-sports crowds.

The ban comes as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths hit record levels across the U.S.

“We’re trying to take data, take facts, take science, take the news that you’re given from the leaders and apply that to what we’re doing, and it changes by the week,” Holaday said.

Anciaux said it’s possible to follow safety guidelines and to still be there to support winter-sport athletes.

“It’s a difficult thing to think of as a parent to not be there with them if they were to get hurt,” she said.

In the meantime, parents at several high schools in Kansas are making the most of the current situation by making cardboard cutouts to fill the stands with familiar faces.

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