Last month the statewide high school athletic association of a neighboring state sent to its member schools a reminder of its sportsmanship standards. From almost all media reports you would have thought the association did a terrible thing.
In fact, the athletic association did nothing wrong – nothing that it and similar organizations have not done many times before to point people away from declining standards of sportsmanship prevalent in other programs and point people toward behavior that is more appropriate for an educational setting – i.e., in programs sponsored and conducted by educational institutions.
Then one of that athletic association’s schools did an unsurprising thing – and what dozens of schools, perhaps hundreds of schools, have done many times before. It distributed the athletic association’s message to its students and coaches.
Where this good work went bad was an isolated incident where one student-athlete at one school posted a profane reaction on social media, criticizing the message; and the student’s school suspended the student from a few contests.
That’s the story. But it’s been mangled by most professional and social media which have rushed mindlessly to ridicule the athletic association.
The association was not wrong to promote positive cheering sections and mutual respect during athletic events. And the association is taking an amazingly high (sportsmanlike?) road to say that it will use this media fiasco as an opportunity to review its sportsmanship guidelines.
We have proven in this state through our Battle of the Fans, a contest conceived by our Student Advisory Council, that cheering sections can be larger and louder by encouraging positive behavior; fun that is also respectful. We prohibit no specific cheers, but we promote positive cheers and the schools where that is the norm.