LETTER TO THE EDITOR: MSHSAA rules wrongly limit pep band playing time

Monday, September 24, 2012 | 4:00 p.m. CDT

I am writing to you about a grave injustice put forth on your high school pep bands. It seems that the Missouri State High School Activities Association has decided that all your students' practice time was and is a waste.

In the current MSHSAA Spirit Guidelines book, the pep bands are not allowed to play from just before tipoff until halftime and then not again until the end of the game so as to let the cheerleaders do their cheers and the coaches give instructions to their teams.

My questions are these: How did coaches give instructions for the past 100 years, and who made the cheerleaders more important than everybody else?

In a time when students are being kept from cheering on their team, someone has found a way to take the pep bands out of the basketball game experience.

I am not seeking to have the cheerleaders removed, but for a long time there was never a problem with pep bands playing at the correct times (except for free throw, injury time out and technical foul) throughout a basketball game.

If you attend a college basketball game, there is full involvement from everybody via a script system where everybody (announcer, band, cheerleaders, dance team and contests) has a turn to show their talents. In the current high school system, pep bands play for a few minutes between a JV and varsity game, including the national anthem. Then, if the dance team cannot dance to the music provided by the band, the pep band might not get a chance to play at all and have to wait until the end of the game when the crowd is leaving.

I think the fair thing to do is to either revert to the old way, when it was a free-for-all or go to a script style where after the public announcements and the national anthem are done, the pep band, home and visiting cheerleaders draw straws for their order for the rest of the night except for halftime festivities such as dance team, ROTC demonstrations and homecoming coronations, and then the rotation picks up again.

I am asking all band parents, supporters and boosters to please contact MSHSAA and let them know you are not happy with the current set-up. I sent a letter to the National Federation for High School Sports and Missouri State High School Activities Association about the issue of pep bands. NFHS replied saying it has no rules on this issue. MSHSAA did not reply but, if it is confronted by the numbers, it will have to answer to someone.

Warren Ingram is a resident of Saint Joseph. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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