MSHSAA held out hope as long as it possibly could to salvage its spring sports season.
By late Thursday afternoon, however, there simply remained no viable path forward amid concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
In line with Gov. Mike Parson’s order that all public school buildings in Missouri are to remain closed for the remainder of the academic year, MSHSAA announced it has canceled all spring competitions.
"This decision is very difficult for all involved especially given the impact it will have on our students, parents, coaches, teachers and administrators throughout the state," MSHSAA Executive Director Kerwin Urhahn said. "We thank all of the participants, the coaches/directors/advisers, the administrations, the parents and everyone else who has dedicated tremendous amounts of time, passion and effort to these events."
MSHSAA remained committed to keeping spring sports championships on the table in recent weeks, planning for the events should schools resume regular session in time to hold them.
As of earlier this week, Missouri was one of 37 states across the country still holding out hope that high schools could play some semblance of a spring sports season, according to the USA TODAY Sports Network.
Championship events play a large role in MSHSAA’s annual revenue, though communications director Jason West said Monday that was not a consideration in the decision process.
"On one hand, we’re trying not to string people along," West said during an interview earlier this week about keeping the door open for spring sports. "But at the same time, we don’t want to have to flip-flop and say, ‘OK, well, sorry guys.’ We can’t bluff and then two days later find out that we really can (hold some kind of season) and now everyone has to get geared back up."
An unfortunate reality has now set in for good — and with it, finality.
A message posted by the Tolton boys golf Twitter account illustrated the emotional shockwaves hitting teams across the state.
"Understandable, but just heartbreaking for our guys — especially our seniors," the post read. "The state will never get to see what was likely our best team in school history. Keep a senior in your prayers today."
MSHSAA noted the decision to call off spring sports was not made lightly and will be most felt by senior student-athletes, who will miss their last opportunities to compete in their respective sports at the prep level.
"We thank you for everything you have done for your schools and communities and wish you the very best in your bright futures," Urhahn said to senior athletes across the state. "While this is a difficult ending, the lessons you’ve learned and friendships you’ve made through high school activities will last your lifetime."
The organization said it plans to resume high school activities for the 2020-21 school year and will be working on those events at this time.