KSHSAA weighing options for winter sports as local families push to let kids play

Sports

LOUISBURG, Kan. — The fate of winter school sports in Kansas will be decided Tuesday. 

The Kansas State High School Activities Association has called a special session to consider options to delay or limit sports like basketball and wrestling.

From shooting hoops and swimming laps across the pool to making epic takedowns on the mat, winter sports are what Andy Melton’s kids live for.

“With this being her senior year, it means a lot to her,” said Melton, a Louisburg parent. “She feels like there’s just some things left on the court she wants to go and prove. My son, a freshman, he’s excited to go start his high school career. It just would mean the world to him to go out and compete.”

In Louisburg, students have been attending in-person school since late August. One of Andy’s kids had to quarantine for COVID-19 exposure, but never got sick. He and fellow Louisburg parent Craig Holtzen feel like schools have done a great job at stopping the spread.  

“Dare I say, I think my kids are safer in school and at those extracurricular activities than I do when they’re out on their own,” Holzten said.

The dads are part of a new group of parents banding together to fight for letting kids play this winter. 

“I think there’s a lot at stake here for our kids,” Melton said.

In just a few days, 3,500 people across Kansas have joined this Facebook page. Another 10,000 have signed a petition for a full sports and activity season.

They insist fall sports were successful and winter can be, too.

“We’re trying to make sure our voices are heard, that it’s not some political tactic or ploy being done but instead based truly on medical evidence. We don’t think there’s evidence to suggest these are super spreader events,” Holtzen said.

As COVID-19 cases spike around the Midwest, the Kansas State High School Activities Association will meet Tuesday, considering several options for the upcoming season.

The choices range from creating a temporary ban on all practices and games for varying amounts of time, to limiting or banning spectators and limiting the number of games and tournaments students can participate in.  

“It’s not to say COVID isn’t serious. My mother was in the hospital with it, and we were very concerned about her. I fully acknowledge COVID is a real threat. But there should be a way to figure it out and having kids miss out on what is their last hoorah in many cases,” Holtzen said.

Now it’s up to KSHSAA to decide if athletes will play or sit the bench this winter. 

Tuesday’s special session is being held virtually at 1 p.m. You can view the agenda and full list of proposals being considered here.

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