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Campus Connection - The role of the fans

Article Date: 
28 September, 2012 (All day)

One of my assigned tasks at Morgan High School is the supervision and coordination of all the activities offered by our school. A major lesson I have come to learn as the assiastant principal/athletic administrator is the effect our fans have on the school climate during competition season.  In this article I will explain some of the do’s on don’ts of watching high school athletics.  Our fans have a great influence on our school community and our student athletes, but in some cases fans have caused turmoil and strife among our teams. When negative actions occur, it takes away the fun and excitement for those who are deeply invested.  
Research has documented the positive effects coaches can have on our athletes. Taking it a step further, it has also been documented how fans and peers play a big role in the outcomes of high school athletics and academics. Our coaches and parents in most cases understand that academics are first and athletics are an extension of the classroom setting.  Winning then becomes a byproduct of the positive action of athletes and coaches alike. A double goal coach becomes even more significant to the entire community as they become committed to positive coaching traits.   As a community we expect our coaches to win, but we also expect the coaches to teach our student athletes “life lessons” and “good character traits” in a positive climate.  In order for this to occur, a positive climate must be created and maintained by the coaches and the school community, (this includes our fan base). As a school we have accepted the challenge of Raising the Bar put before us by the Utah High School Athletics Association and the Utah Athletic Administrators Association.  Raising the bar means acting in a sportsmanlike manner before, during, and after the competition. 
Here is what we want to happen in our school athletics before the game, during the game, after the game, and I am also going to include a “what if” category just for fun;
Before the game:
• Tell your child (the player) you are proud of them, regardless of the outcome of the game or how they may play.
• Tell them to play hard and have fun. Remind them it is O.K. for them to be nervous.
• Make a commitment to HONOR the game, no matter what others do.
During the Game:
• Let the coaches coach. Avoid giving advice to players, yours (or others).
• Fill your child’s (and teammates’) Emotional Tank. Cheer for them! 
• Cheer for good plays and good effort by either team.
• It’s O.K. to mention good calls by the officials to others. That also means you understand the rules and how they may apply. 
• Enjoy and have fun. But not at the expense of others.
• Respect the opponents, the players, the officials, the coaches, and the game itself. 
After the game:
• Thank the officials for doing a difficult job.
• Thank the coaches for their efforts.
• LET YOUR CHILD TELL YOU ABOUT THE GAME.  (Avoid giving your post game analysis unless asked). That allows you to see their point of view. 
• Ask open ended questions: “What was the most/least enjoyable part of the game?” or “What did you learn from the game?”
• Tell your child you are proud of them again after the contest (especially if the game didn’t go well).
And finally the “What Ifs”:
• What if you think a “bad” call happens against our team? (Honor the Game –be silent) Avoid comments that would incite aggressive behavior by other fans, know the rules and help those around you.
• Another spectator on our TEAM begins to berate an official, or worse, one of our players? (EXPLAIN TO THEM THAT IS NOT WHAT WE DO HERE, we honor the game.)
• If they start after the coaches or players. (Explain to them we don’t do that here; we honor the game.)
The world of high school sports and activities can be an emotional roller coaster; hold on for a fun and exciting ride.  Please remember and help us reach our mission statement, which is to assist our student athletes prepare for responsible citizenship, meaningful work, advanced education and lifelong learning. Help us help them as they work hard to have fun.