Member schools of the Missouri State High School Activities Association voted to add bass fishing, bowling, chess and target shooting as “emerging activities” starting next school year.
It’ll likely be at least a few years before you see the Ozark Tigers Bass Fishing Team or Rogersville Wildcats Chess, but bowling may not be too far away, according to Springfield Public Schools Director of Athletics Mark Fisher.
Bowling has the advantage of already being a club sport for several local high schools, meaning much of the groundwork has been done. Fisher said local bowling allies have been accommodating to high schoolers, and the cost to sponsor a team is relatively low.
"I think it's an activity kids are able to participate in, and it's a life-long activity also," Fisher said.
For those emerging activities to eventually hold state championships, 50 schools in at least three of the state’s eight districts would need to have the sport for two consecutive years. Then, member schools would vote on whether to add a MSHSAA-sponsored state championship.
Target shooting was approved a six-vote margin, chess a 12-vote margin, bass fishing passed by 28 votes and bowling 56 votes.
MSHSAA also made changes to state softball and track.
Softball will now have state championships in the fall and spring. Schools can participate in either, but only one. The ballot stated that there will be “certain restrictions on high schools participating in the spring championship series.”
Currently, the MSHSAA state softball championship takes place in the fall. There are some schools that only play spring softball, which does not have a postseason. A handful of schools in the area even play in the fall and spring.
Smaller schools that also fielded a volleyball team in the fall had trouble finding enough athletes for both sports.
In track, a fifth class for the state championships will be added starting next spring.
"I'm not sure how that would impact us because it's about enrollment," Fisher said. "We would have to look at the numbers and see if that would put any of our schools in Class 5, and where we would be in Class 4. I would think there would be some movement around of our five high schools."
Among other MSHAA approval items:• All state football playoff games will now take place on Friday or Saturday.
• Eighth grade students who attend the feeder junior high can participate in that high school’s out-of-season sports conditioning program.
• Up to three schools can cooperatively sponsor an 8-man football team, but only if the combined enrollment for the three does not exceed 200 students.
• Summer school courses can count toward high school academic eligibility.
• Athletes can participate in two all-star contests once their eligibility in that sport has been exhausted.