MSHSAA leaves spring sports up to schools

After canceling the remaining basketball playoffs Monday, MSHSAA sent an email to schools outlining the status of spring activities amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

"As of today we are not canceling spring sport championships," the email said.

However, if a school has "determined that they are closing for a period of time" then "no practices or games should occur during that time." Schools that are in session make the decision on if and when practices and games should take place.

With area schools closing through April 3, the start of spring sports will be delayed at least two weeks.

"We will continue to work with all agencies to monitor and assess this rapidly changing situation," the email said. "We will continue discuss all options in an effort to complete the spring season at some point if at all possible. We will stay in communication with our schools on a regular basis as decisions are made and information is available."

Area schools compete in baseball, softball, girls soccer, boys tennis, boys golf as well as track and field during the spring season at the high school level. Contests were scheduled to start Friday. Junior high teams compete track and field while the volleyball was halfway through its season.

MSHSAA announced that the speech, debate and theatre events at the district and state level are cancelled, as well as the music festival.

"Alternative methods of submission were discussed but found to be lacking in consistency and suitability to maintain a valid process," the email said.

MSHSAA is taking a wait-and-see approach to the Scholar Bowl with districts scheduled for April 18.

"It is our hope that Districts and State Series might be completed, if not as schedule, possibly on a postponed basis," the statement said. "We will take this a day at a time to evaluate and determine if we can complete the postseason tournament as it gets closer."

Once schools reopen, athletes will still be required to have 14 days of conditioning under a coach's supervision before being able to participate in a contest.

"Giving a student a workout plan will not count toward the requirement while schools are not in session and unable to practice at the school," the email states.

When students return, they will "start with the number of practices they had completed up to this date," the MSHSAA email says.

The MSHSAA Board of Directors will meet in April and discuss waving the bylaw that requires teams compete in at least half the number of contests permitted for each sport, the email states.

That might allow for schools to compete a limited schedule to be eligible for the postseason. Each individual school is responsible for creating and contracting its sports schedule while MSHSAA controls and operates the postseason.

"Many of our host venues and facilities are connected with colleges and universities that are closing their campuses," the MSHSAA email states. "These issues directly and wholly affect MSHSAA districts and state series events."

Earlier Monday, MSHSAA cancelled the Show-Me Showdown for Classes 4 and 5 after closing the state playoffs to the public on Friday. Championships were awarded in Classes 1, 2 and 3 in Springfield over the weekend while quarterfinal games in Classes 4 and 5 were completed. Poplar Bluff's girls basketball team lost to Kirkwood 44-33 in the Class 5 quarterfinal in St. Charles.

Missouri was one of the last states to either cancel or suspended its high school basketball playoffs.

"We understand the unexpected hurdles this creates for our schools and fans, and apologize for the inconveniences it has caused," said Dr. Kerwin Urhahn, MSHSAA executive director, in a statement. "Our thoughts are with our schools as they navigate the uncertainty of these times."

The 62nd annual Poplar Bluff Letter Club Basketball Banquet, which honors the All-SEMO Conference team, is being postponed to a later date as a precaution.

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