Suburban Conference vote on fall sports delayed again

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

The second meeting of Suburban Conference superintendents in less than a week again failed to produce an answer to the question on so many individuals' minds: Will there be Missouri State High School Activities Association sanctioned events this fall – ranging from football to marching band?

The conference’s superintendents will now vote by email by Friday about whether to play this fall or make other arrangements because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Area superintendents met via a Zoom conference call Wednesday, and the end result left Independence School District Superintendent Dale Herl and Blue Springs School District Superintendent Paul Kinder disappointed and frustrated.

"I thought a decision would have been made by now. This needs to be decided sooner rather than later," Herl said Wednesday afternoon. "I am disappointed. The Suburban Conference superintendents have been asked to vote yes or no on MSHSAA-sanctioned activities this Friday."

The Greater Kansas City Suburban Conference, which has 25 schools and four divisions, includes seven of the 10 schools in Eastern Jackson County – two schools in the Independence School District (William Chrisman and Truman), both Blue Springs schools, Fort Osage, Grain Valley and Lee’s Summit North. Van Horn is part of the Crossroads Conference, Oak Grove plays in the Missouri River Valley Conference and St. Michael the Archangel Catholic is an independent.

Herl and Kinder hope the vote on Friday will give activities directors in the conference enough time to arrange for all details for the following Friday night’s football games and other activities if activities are approved.

"Look, we – and by we, I mean the Suburban Conference schools – are scheduled to play a football game a week from this Friday," Kinder said. "We need a decision and I am disappointed it didn't happen. The Blue Springs School District supports the start of activities and we are excited about our first football game."

Blue Springs is scheduled to play host to Liberty on Aug. 28 in the first game under new football head coach David White, who takes over after longtime coach Kelly Donohoe retired from the district and took the job at Rockhurst. Blue Springs South is scheduled to open its season on the same day at Lee’s Summit North. Fort Osage football is scheduled to open at home against Kearney; Truman hosts Grandview; Chrisman plays Winnetonka at North Kansas City High School; and Grain Valley is at Smithville.

"You are well aware of our history in Blue Springs," Kinder added. "It is so important to have students in school, so they can be involved in the classroom and in activities like sports and band and other activities."

Both Herl and Kinder emphasized that parents should make the final decision as to whether their children should attend school in the classroom and participate in activities.

"Absolutely, it's up to the parents to talk with their children to make the final decision," Kinder said.

Added Herl: "I think this is a decision the parents have to make. If their child wants to be in any activity, they need to discuss that with their child."

The superintendents met last week, along with Suburban Conference Executive Director Bob Glasgow, and they deemed that more information was needed before Wednesday's follow-up meeting.

Glasgow sent out the following email after that Thursday meeting failed to come up with a definitive answer.

“Due to the lack of direction from local health leaders we are canceling today’s meetings. The Executive Committee has said to keep going forward as planned. I was hoping to have MUCH more to guide you with. I reminded the superintendents that we are all scheduled to play two weeks from tomorrow. I will let you know as soon as I know something. I am sorry for the lack of info and direction. We are still working on recommendations for the SC. Thanks for your patience.”

When asked what he thought the outcome might be, Glasgow said last week, “We are scheduled to play two weeks from Friday.”

There has been no decision made on the number of players who can be a part of the game and whether fans will be allowed. Herl said those issues would be addressed at the next meeting.