NFHS Voice: Respect Everyone
November 4, 2019
By Karissa Niehoff
NFHS Executive Director
Case studies have revealed that kids want to participate in high school sports because they are fun. Being a part of a team gives them an identity, a sense of self-worth and, in some cases, a reason for engaging in academics. They are included, accepted and feel like a valued member of a community.
This describes the ideal and the goal of high school sports. Fortunately, that atmosphere exists at a majority of the 19,500-plus high schools within the NFHS family. And since it is the desire of high school leadership throughout the country that these ideals continue, we are concerned about the growing decline in respect, integrity and unacceptable behavior in and around high school sports.
Racism is one of our greatest concerns nationwide. We have heard of students posting videos to social media with racist comments. We read about racial comments by team members of nearly all-white schools to opposing players from schools composed of nearly all minority students. There have been cases of white players disrespecting Native American players on the opposing team by addressing them in an unacceptable manner.
This type of behavior could be a reflection of events occurring in our society, or due to lack of a respectful environment at home. Regardless, they are not defensible reasons for the occurrence of these horrible acts within education-based high school sports and activities.
High school sports and activities exist to lift people up, not demean or tear people down. National politics or lack of role modeling by adults at home aside, coaches, administrators and other leaders in high schools nationwide must direct programs with respect, acceptance and dignity and demand the same from the school participants.
More than 50 years ago, Special Olympics began a global movement to break down barriers and end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. Since then, lives have been changed for the better all around the world. Many schools have implemented Unified programs in sports, performing arts and even physical education.
We must do the same for everyone. All student-athletes – regardless of race, religion, political views or gender identity – should be treated equally. As baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson said, “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me. ... All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”
As schools hire individuals to fill coaching positions, character must be the top prerequisite for the job. They must be guided by honesty, integrity and ethics, and they must be positive role models for students. And this is certainly not a new idea.
H. V. Porter, the first full-time executive director of the NFHS, had the following to say in 1950: “The amount of success (in improving sportsmanship) is largely dependent on the degree to which attention is constantly given to the matter by the school staff.”
We certainly agree with Mr. Porter but also believe that everyone must pay attention.
The NFHS has several free online education courses through the Learning Center (www.NFHSLearn.com) that can assist in establishing a program that teaches and models respect for self and respect for others. We suggest that “Teaching and Modeling Behavior,” “Sportsmanship” and “Bullying, Hazing and Inappropriate Behaviors” be required courses for everyone working with student-athletes.
High schools must establish a culture that values the worth of every single person – both players on the school’s team and players on the opposing team. There must be a no-tolerance policy regarding behavior that shows disrespect for another individual.
Kids today are looking for a community, and high school sports and activities must be that community that is fun, respectful and supportive of everyone.
Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her second year as executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the first female to head the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS, which celebrated its 100th year of service during the 2018-19 school year. She previously was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years.
This Week in High School Sports: 3/15/23
By Jon Ross
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties
March 15, 2023
This week's edition reviews the MHSAA Ice Hockey Finals, awards Game Balls to standouts in gymnastics and basketball, explains basketball replay rules and closes with highlights from the Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals.
The 5-minute program each week includes feature stories from MHSAA.com or network affiliates, along with "Be the Referee," a 60-second look at the fine art of officiating.
"This Week in High School Sports" is powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Listen to this week's show by Clicking Here.
March 8: Individual Wrestling Finals review, Competitive Cheer Finals highlights - Listen
March 1: Midland heroes, Team Wrestling Finals review - Listen
Feb. 22: Basketball Districts begin, Finals cap Upper Peninsula swimming & diving season - Listen
Feb. 15: Hockey tournament changes, MHSAA social media - Listen
Feb. 8: Winter Postseason Starts, Scholar-Athlete Award - Listen
Feb. 1: Kent City coach Jill Evers, "Officials Appreciation Week" - Listen
Jan. 25: Historic hoops wins, Michigan's national ranking in sports participation - Listen
Jan. 18: Brad Bush joins MHSAA, Al DeMott sets coaching record - Listen
Jan. 4: Winter Championships, Officials Recruitment - Listen
Nov. 23: 8-Player Football Finals, Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving Finals, Volleyball Finals - Listen
Nov. 18: Concussion Myths, Navea Gauthier's record-setting Shelby volleyball season - Listen
Nov. 11: Lower Peninsula Cross Country, Boys Soccer Finals review - Listen
Nov. 2: Football Playoffs Week 1 notables, Fall 2022 championships and broadcasts - Listen
Oct. 26: Football Playoffs pairings selection, Upper Peninsula Cross Country Finals - Listen
Oct. 19: Sunday Selection Show, Lower Peninsula Girls Golf & Boys Tennis Finals - Listen
Oct. 12: 25th Women In Sports Leadership Conference highlights - Listen
Oct. 5: Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals champions, Rockford's Anna Tracey - Listen
Sept. 28: MHSAA Sportsmanship Summits return, Owosso's Macy Irelan - Listen
Sept. 21: MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Marquette's Maddy Stern - Listen
Sept. 14: MHSAA record books, Detroit Renaissance's Kaila Jackson - Listen
Sept. 7: Sports Participation rebounding, Paw Paw's Paige Miller - Listen
Aug. 31: Michigan Power Ratings and soccer seeding, Fenton's Gracie Olsen - Listen
Aug. 24: Redesigned MHSAA.com, key dates and how to watch football in 2022 - Listen