OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Kansas parents are fighting back, hoping to overturn a new state rule banning fans from middle and high school winter sports.
Natalie Kohrs was looking forward to watching both her boys poolside for the first time. Her sons are freshman and senior swimmers at Blue Valley North. But after a recent decision by the Kansas State High School Activities Association, she won’t be able to see their swim meets in person.
“It’s just been one heartbreak after another,” Kohrs said.
If the state’s winter sports fan ban wasn’t bad enough, Kohrs is livid about what looks like a double standard. Just days ago, thousands of fans were allowed to watch Blue Valley North in the 6A football championship.
“People were packed in there like sardines so it just doesn’t make any sense to me,” Kohrs said.
Ben Keech has been coaching his boys in basketball since kindergarten. He’s devastated that he’ll be forced to stay home when his Olathe East student starts varsity play. Keech thinks with precautions in place, some fans can safely be allowed to attend.
“We are wearing masks in all these venues we deal with in our personal life and this one’s no different. And safety can happen in this situation so hopefully they see that and understand that and make an exception at minimum for parents,” Keech said.
KSHSAA said parents and school staff were so upset by its decision to prohibit spectators, it’s received at least five formal appeals and hundreds of informal grievances from around the state.
“The logic of the fact we can sit at the bars and watch a live stream a mile away, elbow to elbow with our friends, go to a movie theatre—I can go anywhere in the state of Kansas, but can’t go to that gymnasium. So that doesn’t seem logical,” said Shannon Doser, Mill Valley parent.
KSHSAA’s board of appeals will now review those concerns Friday and will make a recommendation to the association’s board of directors for what to do next.
“I don’t ever want to be the parent that tells their kid just to take it. Stand up. Be heard,” Doser said.
Friday’s meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will be streamed online. Their decisions is not binding and ultimatley, the full board of directors will have to take a second vote on the issue sometime next week.