Three pilot sports get approval from Equity Committee; sanctioning process moves forward

(Ryan Casey/

The three sports currently in pilot seasons each got a thumbs up from the Equity Committee on Thursday, meaning their quest for sanctioning will continue.

Unified bowling, girls wrestling and boys volleyball each presented to the committee, and were approved by the committee following a review of each sport thus far in their pilot seasons.

The Equity Committee was tasked with reviewing a formal survey of schools about each sport, with a specific eye on the number of schools currently offering a program, the availability of facilities, the availability of officials and coaches, and student participation numbers. In addition, they reviewed the positive and/or negative impact to proportionality and Title IX considerations for the member schools, and for the Association.

After hearing the presentations, the Equity Committee voted to move each sport's sanctioning request to the next step.

"The Equity Committee is really excited about the potential of the three pilot programs," said CHSAA assistant commissioner Bethany Brookens, the staff liaison to the committee. "We were impressed with how each group identified equity and proportionality concerns, and look forward to the increased opportunities that these pilot programs will give our student participants."

Thursday's presentations to the Equity Committee were the first step in a series of reviews which must be successful in order for the pilot sports to be sanctioned. The next steps include reviews by:

  • The Sports Medicine Committee on Feb. 20. This committee will be considering the sports for any safety, liability or health concerns.
  • The Classification, Appeals and League Organizing Committee (CLOC) on Feb. 26-27. This committee will consider the impact of adding new sports with regard to classifications and leagues. They will also review the survey of schools, examining if there is an adequate number of schools in a geographic area to complete a regular season and postseason schedule.
  • The CHSAA Board of Directors in April. The group will review at the results of the school survey, with an eye on the number of schools currently offering the program, student participation numbers, and the potential for growth. They will also consider the cost of adding the new sport(s), and maintaining them; any safety and liability concerns; the availability of officials; and any additional information regarding the impact of the sport(s) on the membership as a whole.
  • From there, a league must agree to sponsor the sport, and submit a proposal for sanctioning at the Legislative Council. Each sport currently has a sponsor.
  • The final step is a vote by the Legislative Council — CHSAA's governing body comprised of representatives from leagues and associations — in April.

The pilot sports must be approved at each step in order to gain sanctioning. If any of the steps along the review process don't approve, that sport's quest for sanctioning ends there.

Here's a closer look at each sport's presentation on Thursday:

Unified Bowling

Full presentation

  • Teams are composed of five players (three competing, and two substitutes). The three competing athletes will be two students with a disability, and one student without.
  • 32 offered teams schools in 2018. They anticipate 50 in 2019.
  • There were 350 participants in 2018. They anticipate 500 in 2019.
  • Bowling is the most popular sport within Special Olympics nationwide.
  • It takes place in the fall season.
  • 76 percent of the schools who responded to a survey were in favor of sanctioning.
  • 11 states sanction Unified bowling.
  • The state competition was held Nov. 8 at AMF Monaco Lanes in Denver.
  • Because the sport is co-ed, Title IX would not be impacted.

Girls Wrestling

Full presentation

  • They use the same rulebook as the boys, but the weight classes are different.
  • There are 114 schools who have girls participating.
  • More than 300 girls are participating this season.
  • It takes place in the winter season, concurrent with the boys.
  • 80 percent of the schools who responded to a survey were in favor of sanctioning.
  • The state tournament will be held Feb. 9 at Thornton HS. There will be two regionals this season, one northern and one southern.
  • If sanctioned, girls must wrestle with their school team if they offer one. If their school doesn't offer a girls program, female athletes would have a choice of wrestling with their school's boys team, or joining another girls program within the same district they attend, or reside in.
  • Adding a girls sport would have a positive impact in terms of Title IX proportionality.

Boys Volleyball

Full presentation

  • The rules are the same as the girls game, but the net is raised.
  • In 2018, there were 60 teams. They anticipate 75 in 2019.
  • In 2018, there were 750 players. They anticipate 1,000 in 2019.
  • It takes place in the spring season.
  • 71 percent of the schools who responded to a survey were in favor of sanctioning.
  • The state tournament was held at Grandview High School last season.
  • Their analysis of Title IX implications and proportionality showed that 54 percent of schools would likely be able to add a boys volleyball program and maintain compliance without counting spirit as a sport. If a school counts spirit as a sport, 74 percent of schools can add a team, according to the group's analysis. (Note: These figures only account for adding a boys volleyball program by itself; it doesn't account for a scenario where girls wrestling were added at the same time, which would only help.)