CHSAA puts locals in bad spot with handling of state track meet
May 18, 2017
The 3A and 4A state track and field championship meet at JeffCo Stadium this weekend was supposed to be a fun time for all, especially the seniors competing for their schools one last time. Instead, with the snowstorm that rolled through two nights ago and the subsequent postponement of the meet by Colorado High School Activities Association's management, condensing the state meet into a two-day event, it now puts some local seniors in a very bad spot when it comes to deciding to stay and compete Saturday and Sunday, or leave to come home and walk in their high school graduations at Coal Ridge and Rifle high schools.
First things first: This was completely mishandled by CHSAA from the start. The threat of the snowstorm were known since late last week, giving the decision makers more than enough time to make a call on how to handle the storm's effect on the state meet.
Instead, the decision makers waited and waited before postponing the first day of the meet at 6 a.m. Thursday. From there, the CHSAA officials continued to meet before then deciding around 1 p.m. to postpone Friday's events as well, condensing everything into two days on Saturday and Sunday.
Outside of the issue with Sunday's events running right up against graduations at Coal Ridge and Rifle, the two-day event also forces all athletes to go all out in the heats, since CHSAA decided to make all the running events timed finals, breaking away from the original set-up of qualifying heats before then running the final race at a later time.
After all the hard work that these athletes put in all season long, it all comes down to one race that has no margin for error. You either run at your best right away, or you're done. That's absurd to me. From my vantage point, it's the equivalent of a baseball season coming down to one at-bat, or a football season coming down to one play. That's not fair to the athletes at all.
Alas, this is a tough situation for all those involved. CHSAA simply can't please everyone with the way this thing has played out, but putting athletics ahead of the student part of the equation for these local athletes is, for me, completely misguided.
I talked to a reporter from CHSAA's website who said that the only real option for this weekend's state track meet was to get it done this weekend at all costs. That simply doesn't make any sense. Why not push it back a week to next week when the weather is better? Instead of holding it Thursday-Saturday again, CHSAA could have pushed it to the middle of the week to accommodate everyone. But from what I heard, that wasn't even on the table when it came to deciding how to handle this situation Thursday morning.
That alone raises a serious question for me: How did CHSAA not have a real backup plan? That's poor planning, in my opinion.
Anyway, enough about CHSAA. What really stinks about this situation is that athletes that have worked their entire high school careers to compete on this stage now have to decide between competing for a possible state championship, or walking across the stage for their high school graduation in front of family and friends. For some local athletes, they even have their graduation parties scheduled for right after the graduation ceremony. It's a mess all around, and a lot of it has to do with the planning — or lack thereof — by CHSAA.
These athletes are students first, and that's how it should always be. Conversely, I would totally understand if these local athletes chose to compete instead of joining graduation.
CHSAA did announce it will hold a ceremony on the field at JeffCo Stadium Sunday morning at 11:50 to honor those athletes that are scheduled to graduate that day. They can even wear their caps and gowns. On paper, it sounds manageable, but then it's important to remember that the Vail and Loveland Passes are awful right now, so asking the athletes' parents to travel back and forth from the Front Range to the Western Slope just for the caps and gowns to take part in a — for lack of a better word — corny ceremony is so misguided.
It's an attempt to fix a bad situation for all involved, but it's way off in trying to appease everyone.
I feel awful for those athletes and their families that will be affected by this. They didn't ask for this; neither did CHSAA. But not having a backup plan in advance knowing the storm was coming and then not really caring about graduations for athletes that would be affected by the condensed two-day schedule is just a bad look.