This Wisconsin athletic association wants to ban chanting and taunts at high school games.
There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly high school sports rivalry, right? Well, that’s wrong, according to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA). They just clarified their “cheering standards” for high school sporting events, and basically eliminated the concepts of rivalry and competition altogether.
According to Yahoo Sports, the WIAA is enforcing standards that ban any form of cheering that taunts an opposing team, even when it’s totally harmless things like “the wave.” The rules — which the WIAA says aren’t new, but are being newly enforced — are intended for cheerleaders, players, and spectators, and are meant to curb unsportsmanlike conduct. In an email, the WIAA specified their guidelines:
“Not wanting to restrict creativity or enjoyment, an enthusiastic and boisterous display of support for a school’s team is welcomed and encouraged at interscholastic events when directed in a positive manner. However, any action directed at opposing teams or their spectators with the intent to taunt, disrespect, distract or entice an unsporting behavior in a response is not acceptable sportsmanship.”
The email also included examples of unacceptable cheers and taunts, which are things like the “air ball” chant, the “nah, nah, nah…hey-eyy goodbye” song, booing of any kind, the wave, comments like “there’s a net there,” or chanting “season’s over” during tournament play. Obviously no one wants to encourage blatantly disrespectful behavior during sporting events, but since when has a little “hey batter, batter” ever hurt anyone?
The guidelines were initially sent to school officials and then forwarded out to students, and that’s when the backlash began. According to USA Today, one high school athlete was given a five-game suspension for tweeting, “Eat shit, WIAA,” in response to the cheering standards. Others have also taken to twitter to express their frustrations and mock the organization.
WIAA acceptable chant to officials: “Dear Sirs: We beg to differ, but thank you for your service to our game.”
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) January 12, 2016
*breathes* wiaa: that is disrespectful, inappropriate, unsportsmanlike, and taunting to opponents, fans, and officials
— Chani (@chanicorpus) January 12, 2016
What’s next, is the WIAA going to ban keeping score because beating a team is disrespectful?
— jack friesch (@jackfriesch) January 11, 2016
Telling an athletic association to eat shit is probably not the best way to convince them you know how to conduct yourself in a respectful manner. Still, you can hardly blame people for feeling frustrated by these overly strict rules. Teaching good sportsmanship is important, but according to Yahoo, some venues are so worried about adhering to the guidelines that they’ve banned cheering entirely. When you make people so scared to express themselves that you remove any sense of camaraderie or friendly competition from sporting events, what’s left?
Sporting events are a fun and important part of the high school experience. They teach kids things like discipline, respect, how to win with grace and humility, and how to accept defeat. It’s one thing to ban behaviors that are openly hostile and hateful, but to treat any kind of competitive commentary as an affront to sportsmanship is just plain silly. The WIAA may want to promote a more positive environment at games, but at this rate, they’re just going to encourage everyone to stay home.