New Rules for Fans at School Sporting Events
By Jeff Mapes
Softball season is in full swing and the Wolves are set to kick off their football season this Friday night at Pauls Valley. Fans wanting to attend games in the various sports throughout the school year should be aware of a new rule passed by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association.
The OSSAA Board of Directors passed a new policy in June that will affect coaches and players as well as fans. The new rule went into effect the start of the softball season.
According to the OSSAA, suspensions will occur from athletic activities for unsporting behavior if an “egregious act of unsportsmanlike conduct” occurs two or more times during the same season, at the same school and in the same activity.
“To be honest, it is a little embarrassing that we have to go to that,” said Davis girls basketball coach and Athletic Director Jeff Brown. “But, it was probably needed. Last year alone, in the state of Oklahoma during basketball season, there were three or four instances where people came onto the floor in a fight.”
Any “egregious” behavior from coaches or players two times in a season will lead to a suspension of the team or individual for the rest of the season. Teams can be suspended for the remainder of the season after two reports of unsportsmanlike behavior.
“It’s really a shame we have to go to it,” said Brown. “But, I think it’s going to be a good thing.”
“As far as the games go and the coaches go,” continued Brown, “it’s not going to be a big change. It’s those egregious things that happen like something bigger.”
If an egregious behavior occurs during the final game of a season, penalties will be enforced during the following season. The new policy will not replace game rules, only unsportsmanlike behavior.
“The games are going to go on,” said Brown. “If I were to get two technicals in a basketball game, I would get kicked out, but that’s not considered egregious.”
Superintendent Mark Moring released a statement saying Davis Athletics will fully comply to the new policy. “I am glad the OSSAA is bringing attention to fan behavior at middle school and high school sporting events,” said Moring. “This is my 25th year in education and last year was the worst year involving fans yelling at officials, players and coaches. In Davis we didn’t have a single incident involving the behavior of students, but we had multiple incidents involving adults.”
Moring continued that fan shortage has caused a problem with hiring officials. “This is why we now have to play junior high football on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday,” said Moring. “There simply aren’t enough officials.”
One concern facing school administrators is how these rules will be forced. “That is a little bit concerning,” Brown said. “Who is going to make those decisions. It wouldn’t be the school. It would come from the OSSAA if there is a big fight. I’m assuming the administrators from both schools along with the referees would get together and have to do a report.”
Another issue face school administrators is who exactly would be responsible for submitting the report.
“If something were to happen, I’m sure they would get the high school principal of both teams and it would start there,” Brown said. “I’m sure the athletic directors and superintendents and everybody would be involved in it.”
Moring said it comes down to the behavior of adults and the results for their actions. “Remember, it’s just a game,” stated Moring. “Our students take part in extracurricular activities to become more well-rounded adults and our students represent our school extremely well.”