Amid swelled interest and participation, non-sanctioned Colorado high school sports carve out their own culture and success

From the Denver Post

A proposed CHSAA bylaw amendment would make the sanction process more in-depth, but mountain biking, bowling and more aren’t worried about it

GOLDEN, CO – OCTOBER 12 – Members of the Golden High School Cycling team head out on a trail on South Table mountain for one of their training rides on Oct. 12, 2017 in Golden. Golden High School has one of the best mountain biking teams in the league. The school has built them a course near the school for practice and the school has supported the efforts to grow the team.

Since its inception in 2010, the Colorado High School Cycling League has provided athletes around the state the chance to compete in mountain biking. The league has since burgeoned to more than 1,400 participants — a growth that has continually spurred a debate among its constituents as to whether the sport could, and should, be sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association.

“We talk about joining CHSAA every year,” said Kate Rau, the league’s founder and executive director. “If the kids, families and coaches want it, and they think that being sanctioned by CHSAA would be a benefit, I’m totally open to that. But we’re our own production anyways.”

Rau’s “but” sentiment epitomizes the climate around many nonsanctioned high school sports leagues in Colorado.

While the interest in activities such as mountain biking, bowling, climbing and rugby has grown — swelling membership over the past decade — those athletes still find themselves without CHSAA sanctioning and the financial backing and school support that come with it.

Sanctioned sports are funded largely by the school, which pays for equipment, fields and coaching stipends, among other expenses. Plus, CHSAA is in the process of making its sanctioning process more stringent. Add in shoestring athletic department budgets that have also hampered efforts by nonsanctioned sports to join the association, and change is unlikely.


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