Why The Blue Springs School District Needs An Enema

To say I was flabbergasted after reading the interview on MileSplit.com with Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District Activities Director, regarding the district’s decision to deny Tori Findley and Victor Mugeche the opportunity to run at the prestigious Arcadia meet in California would be an understatement. Enraged, stupefied and sad would be additional emotions I experienced while reading Bubalo’s responses to Cory Mull’s excellent interview.

Bubalo is simply acting as the spokesperson for the Blue Springs School District but his words reflect on that body’s competence. Please read below for my comments to Bubalo’s explanations in my Off The Couch format.

“It’s just a school district policy. We don’t generally send teams out of state to compete in California. And in this case, it would be individuals. So, it’s just a district policy we are following.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: “It’s just policy” is a lame excuse whether you are a parent repeating it to your kids, a teacher or school administrator dodging a student’s questions or a boss attempting to justify a decision at work. Who makes the policy, Mark? You and the district administrators. Hiding behind this excuse simply inflames those demanding answers.

It isn’t just about cost. It’s about missing class time.
Mark Bubalo
, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: Missing class time. Oh, how I wish this were more of a concern of school districts. With all of the built-in off days for in-service, spring break and holiday break, it is a wonder high school students master any subjects. To lean on this excuse for two seniors with high GPAs and excellent attendance in the final four weeks of their high school career is laughable – but far from funny.

“We don’t generally send teams out of state to compete in California. And in this case, it would be individuals. So, it’s just a district policy we are following.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: What is the District’s problem with celebrating and supporting its best and brightest? Arcadia invites only the nation’s best to compete on its track. It is an honor just to be invited. The District shows its ignorance of the sport of track and field to suggest sending individuals to Arcadia would be detrimental to the team dynamic. It would result in just the opposite – a swelling of pride of Victor’s and Tori’s teammates and coaches. 

It isn’t just about cost. It’s about missing class time.
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: Again with this lame excuse. There is far more to learning than what occurs inside a classroom. Denying these two student athletes the chance of their young lifetimes to test their skills and expand their experience by meeting other premiere high school athletes is not just shortsighted but cruel. It is an example of inept adults poorly positioned for the jobs they hold. 

It’s about not going to a meet with the rest of your team. And it’s just about traveling that distance to go to a high school track meet.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: Victor and Tori have represented their teams, their schools and the Blue Springs School District with great success and class throughout their four years – in cross-country, on the track, in the classroom and whenever placed in the public’s eye due to their phenomenal accomplishments. They deserve the chance to show the rest of the country what they can do against the nation’s best – whether that means racing in Lee’s Summit, New York or Arcadia, California. I would argue that meets outside your home state without your teammates is an excellent preparation for life beyond high school. Isn’t this what high school is all about? Preparing seniors to step into the world as adults?

“We didn’t feel like, in terms of what our philosophy is in high school sports, we didn’t feel like they should attend a meet in California when the rest of their teammates are competing in Missouri.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: Talk about dumbing down the process. One of my pet peeves about education is lowering the bar to the point where everyone gets a prize. The reason not everyone receives an invitation to Arcadia is because it invites only the nation’s best. Guess what? Life is like that as well. Just because you wear the same company t-shirt as your coworker, you both will not be paid the same salary or bonus. Life rewards greatness. School districts should as well.

We didn’t think they needed to go that far to run against good competition.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: What is the District’s issue with traveling to California? It is not 1918. Tori and Victor will not be riding a mule, a stagecoach or a train out west. It is a three-hour flight. The bus ride to a meet in St. Louis takes longer than a flight to California.

I think the philosophy that the district is taking here is this: At some point you have to put some restrictions or some guidelines as to how far you let travel to let students represent your school.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: Why? Why do administrators believe they need to set so many rules? Why do school districts think it is their job to hamper their best and brightest with archaic rules? Bubalo and the District should be applauding this opportunity for two of their student athletes instead of throwing down roadblocks. Here is a thought – look to ways you can enhance your students’ experiences instead of how to hinder them.

“Is a national meet a necessity? We don’t think it is.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: Wow. Just wow. Let’s just scrap all athletics, the band, the dance team, the debate squad and any other non-essential group in the school. Let’s just get back to readin’, wrintin’ and ‘rithmetic and call it a day. Here is a better question – is the Blue Springs School District a necessity? Not if you are a student who wants to test your skill set at the national level. The District is telling those elite students to look elsewhere for their education. What a sad message to send to our youth.

“We think both Victoria Findley and Victor Mugeche are outstanding athletes who represent their schools well and can do that in Missouri. I don’t feel a national track meet competition is in the best interest of our student-athletes.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: Does this comment even deserve a response? Not in their best interest??? I hope Bubalo is simply the anomaly of the BSSD administrators. If he is truly speaking for the entire District, there needs to be an emergency enema of that governing body.

“This is different (then when Stephen Mugeche went to Arcadia in 2014). They (Victoria and Victor) both have Division I scholarships. They are both going to MU (Missouri). There isn’t any reason to go there for exposure’s sake.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: This guy just makes stupid statement after stupid statement – and each one more ill-informed than the last! Has Bubalo noticed that many elite athletes attract multiple scholarship offers – sometimes even from universities in other states, Mark! Travel and exposure for anyone – an athlete, a student, a coach – is an opportunity to open doors to a life path and challenges to explore. Bubalo sounds like he’s intent on keeping Blue Springs’ students inside the confines of the “progressive” state of Missouri until they graduate.

“The important part of the decision here, the decision for our district is, at what point do you put restrictions on high school athletes in order to keep them in school and part of the team? What are you trying to emphasize in high school athletics? The competition and the team. They get that right here in Missouri. We feel like it’s important to go with that.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: Place restrictions on student athletes when the act results in a detrimental result to the individual or team. A trip to Arcadia does neither.

“We look at each case individually. It’s like our band receiving an invitation to mark in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland. We took that under consideration and that decision was no. We’re not sending our band overseas. They can get plenty of competition here in the United States.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: Why would you deny band kids an opportunity to travel to Ireland? Bubalo thinks this is enhancing the District’s decision??? I had no idea the Blue Springs School District was so backward.

“I think everything we have individually, and as those opportunities for our student-athletes and our students and other activities come up, we will look at them with an open mind. Our foundation of our decision is what’s best for our programs, both financially and in terms of what’s best for the student-athlete when it comes to missing class time and participating with their teammate and other students.”
Mark Bubalo, Blue Springs School District activities director MileSplit.com
GH: It is not a question of the District having an open mind. I believe it is time for the Blue Springs School District to cleanse itself of the backward thinking individuals like Bubalo who made this decision. The time for new, progressive, students-first thinking administrators is now. 

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About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.
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3 Responses to Why The Blue Springs School District Needs An Enema

  1. Gavin says:

    Greg-

    I’m not familiar with this, but based on your recitation, I agree. It’s bullshit.

    But I have questions: Can the two kids go on their own and pay their own way? Is the district forbidding them from attending or are they merely refusing to pay for it? Because the two kids gotta look out for themselves and if I were them (or their parents) I know I’d be going.

    If the district tried to forbid me, I’d demand to see the rule they say allows them to do that. I would assume (but it’s really more of a guess) that the district has the ability to suspend them from their high school team if they go to an unsanctioned competition. If they tried that, I’d consider engaging a lawyer to prevent them. But even *IF* the district has the ability to suspend them from the school team, would they do it? Based on the quotes above, it sounds like the Arcadia meet might conflict with a currently scheduled meet in Missouri. But either way, it sounds like these two kids have the ability to help steer more wins (invititationals, duals and regional/class/state meets) to Blue Springs even if they have to miss one meet for Arcadia. I get that the district has to publicly be in charge, but it sounds like Arcadia can do more good for them than being on the Blue Springs team. If that calculus bears out, quit the Blue Springs team and train privately until it’s time to report to Mizzou.

    • Taylor says:

      In Response to Gavin.. unfortunately they can’t go on their own they must be associated with a school district. The money is in now way an issue the district wasn’t going to pay regardless the only thing they have to pay is a small entry fee less than $100 they wouldn’t be paying for travel they didn’t for Stephen in 2014 and they weren’t this year they make it seem like they were footing the bill but that’s misleading. I know for a fact a few parents of Athletes have gone to the school board on this issue actually at the request of someone associated with one of the programs. This has resulted in a cold shoulder from the district a “we know what’s best and you’ll do as we say” type of response.

  2. Brad Kazmaier says:

    Greg,

    You are pretty much spot on. Insane that the administrators somehow think they know better for these 2 athletes as if the athlete’s families are somehow incapable of making decisions on their own behalf and what’s best for their child’s well being.

    I find it very odd that BSSD has not prevented elite athletes from these events in the past (Something smells rotten here. Either significant details missing or they truly are incompetent which by the interview responses seems most likely. If there were legitimate details that caused this decision and they didn’t want those reasons to be public he would have simply responded generically that the reasons for the decision were due to many factors but it is the decision we’ve made…and not come up with all the BS excuses).

    I’m glad he helped the athletes families by reminding them they already have a scholarship therefore no need to live any longer. In T&F the concept of team is far different than in singular team sports (obviously he had nothing of a defense so he threw out the “team” card so that anyone who disagrees is not putting “team” first. Lame but nice try).

    Arkansas is ok but oh no not California. That’s a little too risky all the sudden. Is California even on the planet anymore or do we have to take the Space Shuttle now days?

    If everyone was as ignorant as BSSD there wouldn’t be National events such as Arcadia. Ah, but there is. So, what’s the harm? (its not the days off, Its not the money, Its not a new precedent, It isn’t about scholarships, It’s not about “team”….) So what is the real issue?

    I’m sorry, but way before any of us were born, government took on managing athletics (providing great opportunity but also taking away from individuals their right to many choices. As a result those in power must take great care to not abuse their trust of their constituents. Fail Here). If you are going to hold kids back then it better be because the kid is going to be detrimental to the District or its a blatantly risky situation.

    Bottom line is this: These kids have gifts that expire with time and this opportunity will be lost forever to them. Can’t go back and do it all over. Taking that away from a kid without darn good reason is abusive in my opinion. Yes, Mr. Bubalo and any who had a hand in this decision need to be removed from their jobs. Yes, the kids will go on with life having missed a unique opportunity they will never see again. Mr Bubalo (and similar cohorts) likewise should miss the unique opportunity to lead the BSSD. Yes, their lives will go on too. Seems like a token amount of justice for their poor decision making. They don’t deserve to be directing what is likely a fine school district (referring to the people not the administration). Ultimately, the people of BSSD can remove Mr Bubalo and others who are abusive decision makers. If they don’t then then they risk similar logic and bad decisions going forward. How can you trust someone like this?

    BTW: Here’s what they are missing: 1) experience against the best competition-makes them better when they do get to college and further represent their roots and they share that with the Blue Springs coaches and teammates. 2) See how they compare in the same conditions vs. similar HIGH SCHOOL athletes – not the same as #1 – not the same when they get to College when they are older – age matters here. 3) An opportunity that cannot be replaced by going to College. It’s their life. Let them live.

    If you don’t understand the value to an elite athlete then you have never truly competed and shouldn’t be making decisions for competitors.

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