From guest blogger Kimberly Shannon
A Kentucky task force came together on Monday to build recommendations for rules to govern middle school sports in the state, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. It suggested that the Kentucky Board of Education discuss the possibility of a statewide middle school athletics association, along with a host of other recommendations.
Currently in Kentucky, high school sports are governed by the Kentucky High School Athletics Association, but middle school sports have no such governing structure, according to the Herald-Leader. Their rules and policies come from local school boards, and many of their playoffs and championships are organized by nonprofit groups.
The Kentucky General Assembly established the 2012 Task Force on Middle School Interscholastic Athletics through House Concurrent Resolution 155 (HCR 155) to study current policies governing middle school athletics, health and safety concerns, training and certification requirements for coaches, length of season, liability concerns, and more, according to their website.
According to the Glasgow Daily Times, the task force recommends that the state:
- Require nonprofits that run middle school sports events to report injuries, meet insurance requirements, and determine eligibility for participation;
- Determine limitations on the amount of contests allowed in each sport per year (These limitations could be waived for a post-season championship event.);
- Find a way to ensure that athletes, coaches, schools, and school boards have adequate accident and injury insurance for athletic events;
- Require tracking of all sports-related injuries and incidents;
- Consider adopting statewide eligibility rules including age restrictions for participation on high school teams; and,
- Require middle school coaches, volunteers, and paraprofessionals, to meet existing certification and background check requirements and complete all the same training that is required for high school coaches
The Kentucky School Board will be briefed on these recommendations next week, and could potentially adopt some of these proposals as early as February, said Kevin Brown, general counsel for the state education department and a member of the task force. The task force was led by co-chairs Sen. Mike Wilson and Rep. Carl Rollins, and consisted of legislators, citizens, educators, and coaches.
The formation of the task force follows multiple efforts to regulate middle school sports statewide, including a 1993 task force recommendation for the KSHAA to include middle school sports that was never adopted, and a task force organized by the KSHAA to study middle school athletics that was suspended when the current task force was formed.
The KSHAA currently does have the authority to oversee middle school sports, but does not have the resources to make that happen, according to KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett, a member of the task force. The KHSAA chose to be involved in the task force mainly due to health and safety concerns that had been voiced by the state medical association, he said. Tackett is confident that the school board will be receptive to the recommendations, according to the Glasgow Daily Times.
The 2012 Task Force on Middle School Interscholastic Athletics' recommendations followed five months of research on other states that have middle school athletics associations, according to the Herald-Leader. Such states may have included Tennessee, Georgia, and Arizona.