Bad Sportsmanship Among Parents at Children's Sporting Events (page 4)

By — American Association of School Administrators
Updated on Feb 17, 2011

Banning Fans

In some instances, school districts have had to ban an out-of-control fan — or at least to civilly escort him or her from the stadium or gymnasium after an outburst of shamelessly uncivil behavior. At a school board meeting in February, Susan Dudley, the superintendent of the Edinburg, Ill., schools, publicly shared one such incident that occurred during a boys basketball game.

“It was a really close game, and it should have been a close game, because there were two highly competitive and talented teams playing a fairly aggressive game,” Dudley says. “Our players kept their cool. They played hard and they played to win, but they didn’t get overly aggressive and they were respectful to the referees and to the other players.”

Meanwhile, two fans in the stands had to be escorted from the gym for what Dudley calls “mouthing in the crowd.”

She adds: “There’s a way to cheer your team on without being derogatory toward the referee or his call. For the most part, we don’t have bad fans, but it’s that one or two who makes everybody want to crawl under the bleachers because it’s so embarrassing. Even their spouses won’t sit with them.”

Dudley regularly writes a column for the town newspaper and on one occasion she focused on the decorum of spectators at school sports events. This time, she was responding to some blatantly out-of-bounds behavior during baseball season. “It was just a way to make people think a little bit,” she says. “What you say isn’t just between you and the umpire at that moment. It’s a reflection on the entire student body and the community.” Dudley says her comments were received well by parents who told her it was a subject that needed to be addressed.

When push comes to shove, however, Dudley says a school district’s best defense lies with its coaching staff. Having capable basketball coaches, she says, is what prevented the fan fracas in February from becoming something worse and that allowed her student athletes an opportunity to demonstrate their poise under pressure, which she reinforced with praise at the school board meeting.

“The coach is one of the more important parts of your team,” Dudley says. “They set the standards. They set the expectations, they model those expectations and they work with the kids every day. Our job is much more than coaching a team and winning a ball game. We’re raising children. It’s a big responsibility and we have a hand in how those children turn out and what kind of adults they become. We need to take that obligation seriously.”

Linda Chion Kenney is a senior reporter with the Sunbelt Newspapers in Brandon, Fla. E-mail:

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