Proposal for Sunday activities fails

State high school assoc. keeps day free of school events


A controversial proposal by the Montana High School Association regarding event scheduling was voted down at MHSA’s annual meeting in Great Falls Monday.

The proposal, which would have given school districts the option to schedule sporting events and other activities on Sundays, was defeated by a 98-63 vote. 

The vote echoed the Miles City Unified Board of Trustees’ stance, which was to continue to keep Sundays activity free.

The issue was brought to the attention of the MHSA board after the Oregon High School Association voted to allow Sunday activities. The Seventh-Day Adventists in Oregon successfully sued the Oregon School Activities Association because activities were allowed on Saturdays, a religious day in that denomination, and not Sundays. 

Miles City Unified School District Activities Director Mike Ryan, who represented the district at the Montana meeting, said that despite the proposal being voted down, it may not be the last school districts hear of it.

“What the MHSA wanted to do was shift the decision-making power to local districts to prevent a potential lawsuit,” Ryan said. “I’m sure this proposal is something you’ll see again a year from now.”

Miles City Superintendent Keith Campbell said in an interview last week that the Unified Board of Trustees chose to cast one of the dissenting votes regarding this issue.

“I think it’s a bad deal, and our board feels the same way,” Campbell said. “We have very few days where kids are home anyway, so if we can protect one day of the week, whether it’s a religious day or not, we need to do that. I disagree that the policy should be changed just because of the potential threat of a lawsuit.”

In all, there were initially eight proposals before the MHSA at Monday’s meeting. Only six were voted on, however, as two proposals were withdrawn. A proposal to amend eighth-grade participation/academic/transfer by-laws was also voted down.

“This proposal would have allowed individual districts to determine whether to allow eighth-graders to participate in high school sports instead of the MHSA,” Ryan said. “That one also failed. Eighth-graders can participate, but in order to do so the school must petition the MHSA. The final decision would rest with them.”

A proposal to eliminate Master Basketball scheduling also failed. Had this proposal passed, schools would have had the option to schedule challenging non-conference games, rather than being forced to play a team with more, or less, talent; the rationale being this would lead to fewer lopsided scores.

Also at the meeting, Mark Ator, activities director and assistant principal at Colstrip High School, was elected to the MHSA Executive Board for a four-year term.