Mailbag: On a shot clock in basketball, unruly fans, and adding new sports

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

In this installment of the Mailbag, we tackle questions about the (non) use of a shot clock in basketball, fans who act inappropriately, the addition of new sports and activities, and more.

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Chaparral Denver East boys basketball generic

(Kevin Keyser/

Why doesn't CO hoops use a shot clock? Aren't there other states that do this? If so, how come we can't do it, too? I really think it would help the game, so that teams aren't just sitting around holding the ball as much as they are now.

— Nick, Longmont

This is an interesting topic. The short answer to your question is that as things stand in Colorado right now, it would take a change at the national level to get this done. The reason for this is that CHSAA is among states nationally that are a "100 percent" state — that is, Colorado follows NFHS rules 100 percent.

You're right, there are states that deviate from the NFHS rules specifically so they can add a shot clock. Eight states, in fact: New York, California, Massachusetts, Maryland (only girls), North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island and Washington.

So why doesn't CHSAA stop being a 100 percent state? Well, there are a lot of benefits to being a 100 percent state, including the ability to sit on NFHS rules committees. Having representation there means you're able to help shape future rules, and that (obviously) is a pretty important influence.

The NFHS has looked at adding a shot clock in the past. In 2015, the organization noted that proposals have been pushed forward "for a number of years," but that "the arguments against the use of a shot clock have prevailed."

It came up at CHSAA's basketball committee meeting last February. And I'm sure it will again this February. (This is also commonplace in other states. It's happened in Ohio and Illinois recently, too.)

Basically, the arguments against the shot clock revolve mostly around tradition and strategy, but also that it would create a financial burden for schools who would have to go out and buy new scoreboards or stand-alone shot clocks. (Shot clocks range from $2,000 to $7,000, according to a report on

I'm personally in favor of adding a shot clock, and think that the financial side of things could be mitigated by simply having officials keep track of the shot clock at gyms that don't have one built in. (Every state venue already has a built-in shot clock.) We already have referees keep time in football with the play clock, including the recent 40-second experiment this past season.

Lewis-Palmer Vista Ridge girls soccer

(Josh Watt/

There are fans who take sports way too seriously and frankly don't know how to act at sporting events. The loss of officials is discouraging and alarming. Should CHSAA adopt a policy of zero tolerance or close to it to deal with unruly fans?

— Chris, Pagosa Springs

You are absolutely right: People take sports way too seriously, especially at our level. There has been an extreme loss of perspective when it comes to sporting events.

Ultimately, at the high school and youth levels, sports are used as a way to teach kids about life. They deal with hardship, controversy, expectation, disappointment. They learn to be a member of a team, how to take instruction, how to constructively criticize, how to be humble in victory, and gracious in defeat.

Sports are absolutely important, for their ability to teach, and for other reasons as basic as exercise, but they are ultimately a game. Perspective so important.

I love what Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell said about seeing the Earth from the Moon in 1971:

From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that, you son of a [expletive]."

I think that same perspective holds true for sports: Is that missed call by an official so important in the grand scheme of the world? Of your kid's life? Do you really need to scream and yell at the official so everyone in the gym can know you disagree with it?

Your kid will go on to have many moments that really matter — perhaps the birth of a child or the death of a parent, a job offer, moving to a new town — and the hope is that by playing sports at a young age, they will have learned some skills to will help them deal with those moments.

In any case, to your actual question — should CHSAA adopt a zero policy tolerance for fans — maybe not a zero-tolerance policy, but perhaps some new rules may be in order. Or perhaps we need to do a better job at policing ourselves.

Some of the instances we wrote about when discussing the abuse of officials were just gross. But we've all seen similar things at games. Maybe the next time it happens, we shouldn't just roll our eyes. We can't normalize treating another person like garbage. We need to tell them to stop, and help that unruly person gain some perspective. We need to be the example for our kids.

The ones who don't have the words to rationally discuss something simply raise their voices and resort to cussing someone out. So let's teach them the words, and how to properly and calmly handle the situation.

(Ryan Casey/

(Ryan Casey/

I am writing to inquire about the process for new activities to be accepted and sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association. Can you help me to track down this information?

— William, Seattle

I went straight to the source for this one — CHSAA assistant commissioner Bethany Brookens, our equity coordinator — because she has far more complete and direct knowledge.

First, the people behind adding a new activity or sport need to contact the equity coordinator, and then send out a survey to member schools gauging the interest in adding that sport or activity.

"They'll ask things like who's interested, do they have facilities to support it, what the cost impact would be, and how would it affect their proportionality" in terms of Title IX, Brookens said.

From there, the group would present to the equity committee. That committee would make a recommendation on whether or not to add the new sport/activity.

The group then has the option of speaking to the Legislative Council in hopes of gaining support.

The final step would be to have a league bring a proposal forward to be voted on by the Legislative Council, typically at its April meeting.

CHSAA hasn't added a new sport since 1998 and 1999 with boys and girls lacrosse. But as we've written about, girls wrestling may be on the horizon.

Recently, girls rugby got most of the way, only to have its momentum stopped at the most important step: no league wanted to sponsor a proposal.

Boys volleyball is set to talk to Legislative Council in January, and we may then see a proposal from a league in April.

Why aren't the RPI standings updated yet? I feel like they were always updated during the fall. What happened?

— Toni, Castle Rock

After receiving feedback from our schools, we opted to not publish the winter rankings until mid-season. We will likely do this in spring, as well.

The feedback from the schools indicated that it would be helpful for them if the standings didn't post until there was a meaningful amount of data.

Here's more info from something we published in December.

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