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Insurance Troubles For High School Bass Tournament

NIXA, Mo. (AP) — Concerns about insurance requirements will keep a southwest Missouri high school team from participating in the first high school bass pro fishing tournament in June.

Nixa High School anglers won't be part of the Bass Pro Shops first Open Championship of High School Fishing Tournament at Table Rock Lake on June 7-8 because requirements from its insurance company, MOPERM, are too strict and expensive for the volunteer boaters who would take the team onto the lake, said Brandon Clark, the school's activities director.

“This was most disappointing to me because of the 19 kids in the club, 12 were brand new to Nixa High School activities,” he said. “That's 12 more kids I've hooked into participating in a Nixa activity. But the insurance requirements just made it difficult for us to fish competitively this year. My faith is that we'll be able to work through these regulations and find a compromise so they can fish in tournaments next year.”

However, the company said requiring such things as having the volunteer boaters take a Coast Guard certification course at a cost of about $400 each, and to be CPR- and first-aid trained and requiring students and boat captains to wear specific safety glasses were suggestions, not requirements, The Springfield News-Leader reported.

“We have suggested some of those are good guidelines, and we are glad to help develop some guidelines for Nixa,” said David Korman, executive director of MOPERM. “But as far as MOPERM laying down a mandate, our agent said it was a suggestion, not mandatory.”

Bassfishing is not a sanctioned high school sport in Missouri, though more than three dozen schools have formed clubs anticipating it will eventually be sanctioned through the Missouri State High School Activities Association, which would then sponsor fishing tournaments.

MSHSAA spokesman Jason West said the association is working with insurance companies to complete common procedures and requirements for high schools to participate in the sport.

Bassclubs at Hillcrest and Glendale high schools in Springfield still plan to use volunteer boaters during the Bass Pro tournament.

Associate Superintendent Justin Herrell said bass clubs at Hillcrest and Glendale are school-sponsored, but not school-sanctioned, activities. Aside from requiring background checks and proof of liability insurance from volunteer boaters, Herrell said club sponsors and volunteers set their own rules.

“At this point we specify in our permission form that responsibility for club participants falls on the boat owner and parents, it's not a district-sanctioned activity,” he said.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, www.news-leader.com

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