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Manhattan High wrestlers spar during the third practice of the season Wednesday afternoon at MHS East Campus. KSHSAA’s Executive Board on Wednesday passed a proposal, 9-0, to delay the start of winter sports until after the new year. The proposal will be voted upon at a special KSHSAA Board of Directors meeting Nov. 24.

TOPEKA — Practices for winter sports in Kansas began as scheduled Monday.

But if a proposal sent forth by the Kansas State High School Activities Executive Board is passed next week, practice is the only thing those sports — basketball, wrestling, bowling and swimming/diving — will be able to do until 2021.

On Wednesday, the Executive Board considered and then adopted a proposal from the KSHSAA staff to delay the start of competition in winter activities until after the new year. The proposal passed by a unanimous 9-0 count and now will be voted upon at a special KSHSAA Board of Directors meeting, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 24.

“We’re never going to eliminate risk,” KSHSAA Executive Director Bill Faflick said at the meeting. “But we need to make sure that the benefit outweighs the risk. We’re in the process of assessing that.”

In the proposal, competition for all winter sports would not be allowed before Jan. 15 because of concerns with the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases across Kansas. Teams will be able to continue practicing until Dec. 22, at which time a moratorium on practices would begin and last until Jan. 4.

Once competition resumes, basketball would be limited to a maximum of 13 games with the elimination of invitational tournaments, bowling would be allowed eight competitions, swimming and diving would get six competitions and wrestling would get 12 events with a maximum of 20 competition points.

Under current rules, basketball teams are allowed a maximum of 20 games, bowling gets 10 competitions, swimming/diving is allowed 10 and wrestling 18 events and 30 competition points.

The proposal also addressed fan attendance once competition resumed in January, calling for no fans from Jan. 15 to 28 and then limitations from Jan. 29 through the remainder of the season.

It also re-emphasized the continued practice of wearing masks and social distancing.

“We can’t get stale with that message,” Faflick said referring to a “Three Ws” philosophy — Wear your mask; Wash your hands; Watch your distance.

“We’ve got to continue to share that as we move forward in whatever way we move forward.”

In a poll taken of 90 superintendents across the state Nov. 12, 78% were in favor of conducting winter activities in their district with 80% in support of offering regular-season basketball competitions and just 48% supporting regular-season wrestling competition (30% of those polled do not offer the sport in their district). There also was 70% support in the extended winter moratorium from its current five-day period to a nine-day period.

Additionally, 71% supported extending the competition moratorium until Jan. 15 and a reduction in allowable winter sport competition opportunities. A total of 81% supported conducting winter sports postseason events, and 78% said they would allow spectators with limitations at regular-season activities.

Faflick also said that in correspondences with a sports medicine advisory committee, it was confirmed that “there was no scientific evidence that there is a spread of the diseased on the field of competition. They believe this is primarily an adult issue. ... Athletics may not spread the disease, but it may certainly impose some kind of quarantine being in place because of exposure.”

The advisory committee also recommended a delay in interscholastic competition.

In order for Wednesday’s proposal to take effect, it will need a majority vote in favor of it at next Tuesday’s Board of Director’s meeting.

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