Mailbag: On kneeling for the national anthem, football's championship sites, RPI, and girls wrestling

EDITOR'S NOTE: Opinions in this Mailbag do not reflect an official viewpoint of CHSAA.

In this installment of the Mailbag, we tackle the question of kneeling for the national anthem, football championship sites, RPI queries, and girls wrestling.

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Fairview Horizon football American flag

(Kai Casey/

I am curious as to why CHSAA isn't doing anything about the Aurora football players that are kneeling at the football games when the National Anthem is being played? When I asked I was told it was a local call. Well then why do you care about if a student wears a shirt at a game and paints their chest with their schools colors or uses a cowbell?

I think this is more unsportsmanlike and distracting than that! I have seen you come into schools and lose your mind over newspapers being held up and other things so why not this?

— Tamatha E., Alamosa

I really can only reinforce what you were told: It is a local issue, and the schools need to be the ones involved in it. Because, first and foremost, it is an educational opportunity, and the coaches, administrators and adults at those schools need to be approaching it that way. The CHSAA office is not going to tell schools how they need to handle this.

I had a conversation with our commissioner, Paul Angelico, about this very topic earlier this week. He and I often have long talks about societal issues, politics, or whatever else, and I really enjoy them.

Here's some of what he had to say:

"We are not in a position to say that they do not have the freedom of speech to protest. People died for their right to do this," Angelico said. "But this is a situation that has to be dealt with educationally. This is a learning opportunity.

"I think it's important that these students know the specifics of what they are protesting about and why. And the same goes for their teammates, who may not be protesting. Are there other outlets which can make a positive difference to the issues they are protesting? Could a student get involved in community activities that can make a real change in their neighborhood rather than just kneel down at the game?

"All of these things can only be answered at the local level between a coach and a student. This organization is not in a position to judge if any or all of this is happening. What I really hope for is that whatever a school, district or coach does it can be done in such a way to unite us, not to further divide us."

As for the other part of your question, those instances deal with sportsmanship, which is directly related to fair play, crowd control, and belittling the other team.

4A/5A football Mile High walkthrough

(Ryan Casey/

Why doesn't 3A, 2A, 1A, 8-man and 6-man football teams play at the same venue (Mike High Stadium) for their State Championship game? I have heard many state high school activity associations host all their football championship games at the same venue. Is there talk about changing the current format?

— Joe W., Thornton

Many of these classes have held their state championship games at neutral venues in the past. In fact, 3A just moved from Legacy Stadium in Aurora to a neutral site in 2013.

Still, this topic is discussed pretty regularly at times within the football committee. Because, on one hand, it would be awesome to play all seven championship games at one site. But, according to assistant commissioner Harry Waterman, who oversees football, there is not have an option for more than two championship games at Mile High.

So you start from there and look at other options. What about holding 3A, 2A, 1A, 8-man and 6-man at one site, like Legacy Stadium?

Well, surveys conducted by the CHSAA office indicate that those classes simply do not want to have both teams travel to neutral sites.

"They want to remain in their own backyards," Waterman said.

Like I mentioned, 3A did have a neutral site for a few cycles prior to 2013. The attendance was incredibly diminished at those games, because (for the most part) those classifications are so spread out geographically, and not many people travel to the neutral sites.

Having been to a championship game at a host site, the atmosphere is just special. There's nothing like a 6-man championship game with a cattle trailer positioned as a wind break on a 5-degree day. You know that old saying that the best time to rob a bank in a small town is during a football game? No, the best time is during a championship football game — because everyone from the town is there, and they bring everyone they know from nearby towns.

This is even true for a city like Pueblo. They filled Dutch Clark Stadium to capacity for the past two 3A title games.

Sports like basketball and volleyball do have neutral sites for 3A, 2A and 1A, but that works for a variety of reasons. The most important: they are playing multiple games over the span of a few days.

I really don't see these football championship games moving back to a neutral site unless something really special happens in terms of a neutral host site.

I get the need for using something like the RPI to have equity when determining who is worthy of qualifying for regionals/playoffs/seeding etc., however I do think it needs to be tweaked.

There are times when two teams have played each other (twice) and one team has won both. However, the two teams is question have identical records but the team that won the head to head match up has a lower RPI. The head to head matchup has to be worth more.

Scheduling is part of the answer but modifying the RPI needs to be considered. Is CHSAA looking at this?

— Doug E., Montrose

Good question. This is something that is touched on a lot, especially at committee meetings.

The head-to-head factor is tough in RPI because of the following scenario:

  • Team A beats Team B
  • Team B beats Team C
  • Team C beats Team A

There is no way to accurately give more weight to Team A's win over Team B without also screwing up how Team C's victory over Team A is viewed, given that Team C lost to Team B.

In reality, there are not usually just three teams involved in this example scenario. It's more like six or seven. And that's why you can't directly weight head-to-head.

RPI is designed to look at the strength of an entire schedule, not an individual game. Its purpose is to look at teams and compare their relative strength given all factors, including a team's own winning percentage as it relates to the overall schedule it played.

Mountain View wrestling Kaley Barker

(Ryan Casey/

With the rise in women's wrestling and the recent success of our women's Olympic team does CHSAA have any plans to start a girls wrestling division? Other states currently offer this and more colleges are adding women's programs. If not, how do we get that conversation started?

— Brandon C., La Junta

This is actively being discussed, so the conversation is already in the works.

There is a subcommittee formed out of the wrestling committee exploring this. They will report their findings at the next wrestling committee meeting, which is Feb. 28, 2017.

"They're digging into info, and researching how other states administer girls wrestling," said Harry Waterman, who also is in charge of wrestling in the CHSAA office.

There are a lot of questions to answer: Would girls wrestling be a separate sport? Or part of the existing sport, with two-to-three classifications for girls?

We'll know more in February, including if the conversation about girls wrestling will move forward from there.

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