This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to CJOnline at www.cjonline.com/subscribe.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association’s format conducting high school state basketball tournaments is unlike most any other state, with separate sites for all six classifications.
That is one of the major reasons that KSHSAA official Francine Martin says allowed the organization to hold tournaments as scheduled both Wednesday and Thursday, while most other sporting events across the country have been canceled or altered due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
"Right now today we are on at all of our sites as scheduled with fans, and excited to be able to do that,’’ said Martin, assistant KSHSAA executive director who oversees basketball in the state.
Martin, who sat down with members of the media at the Class 6A site in Wichita on Thursday, said her organization knows fans are concerned about the situation, and understands those concerns.
"Will there be fewer fans? Probably, and we’ve told people, ’If you’re sick, if you don’t feel well, don’t come. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t come,’ ’’ Martin said.
"This is a choice. It’s not a requirement. It’s not like school where it’s compulsory. It’s a choice for you to come or for you not to come. We’d love to have you here supporting your kids, but if that’s something that you’re not comfortable with then we certainly understand that.’’
Martin said the state’s unique situation certainly played into the KSHSAA’s decision to be able to start the tournaments as scheduled.
"We are different than almost any other state, in that we have our (tournaments) at six different sites,’’ Martin said. "We do not have a big mass group of people in one arena, and that’s lot different than all of our other comparison sites as you look around.
"We’re looking at smaller groups of people than when you look at even other state high school venues and certainly different than the NCAA and the things that they’re facing, or Major League Baseball or the NBA. We just don’t have that type of crowd.’’
Martin said the KSHSAA continues to monitor the situation and is ready to make any changes necessary.
"We have been monitoring this not just for the past four days, we’ve been monitoring this for the past four weeks and trying to be prepared as you can,’’ she said.
"I don’t think anybody expected everything that happened (Wednesday) to happen. I don’t think anybody foresaw all of that coming so therefore just like everyone else, we are doing the best we can to keep in mind that we want the safety of our kids and our fans to be No. 1.
"We feel like we prepared all of our state sites and we prepared our schools for, ’These are the things we feel like you need to be able to provide for us to be able to have quality events.' "
A decision about the final two days of the state tournament was scheduled to be made later Thursday.
"What will happen (Friday), that’s a moving target and we are working things right now,’’ Martin said. "Obviously, as we visit with people, they would like us to have our tournament. That’s what people want.
"But we are also very cognizant of the health department and the CDC and the things that they are recommending, so we’ll continue to do the best we can.’’