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CHSAA give sportsmanship a boost

BY JEFF LETOFKSY | The Pueblo Chieftain | AUG 16 , 2019

The Colorado High School Activities Association is stepping in to deal with chatter and behavior from the crowd.

In an effort to address poor sportsmanship that can sometimes be exhibited in the stands at games, CHSAA this year is arming schools with more tools to target unruly fans.

The association has created a set of posters and cards surrounding Venue Sportsmanship Expectations for schools, and they are available for download on the Sportsmanship page.

Modeled after the game expectations tools used by Liberty Common and athletic director Dan Knab, the venue sportsmanship expectations from CHSAA can be used in gyms and field at sporting events throughout the year. The Association’s vision is that the poster by placed somewhere near the venue’s entry point.

The poster sets sportsmanship expectations that fans need to follow. It urges them to:

● Cheer for their team, not against the opponent
● Respect officials, coaches, players and one another
● Not use foul language, or taunt in any form
● In addition, the poster warns fans that the school administration will be using yellow and red cards to communicate poor behavior. Cards can be handed out in scenarios such as fans calling out individual players, coaches or officials on the field or venue.

The yellow card asks the fan to rethink their actions, and warns them that a second card will result in their removal from the facility. A red card indicates that the fan is being asked to leave the facility.

Pueblo-area athletic directors and coaches are on board with the new policy.

New Pueblo West High School athletic director Zach Odell is fully in favor of the policy.

“We absolutely are going to implement it,” Odell said. “Too many times we’ve had parent behavior or fan behavior that’s out of control, thinking they can treat anyone with disrespect. And there’s no repercussions. It’s an avenue to help with that.”

Odell indicated that CHSAA was very clear that abiding by the policy is an expectation.

“It’s unfortunate it’s come to this point,” Odell said. “We’re going to use them (cards). I hope we don’t have to use them and we’ll see how it works.

“It’s a process people will know and hopefully everybody gets on board. It doesn’t matter where you go, a football field, a soccer field, a baseball field, a wrestling match. What I like about it is that now we have some consistency.

“It will take some training for administrators and security who cover the games to understand the policy, but getting people to behave better and enjoy the games has been a long time coming.”

Supporting the policy has gone city-wide.

“We’re going to push that to our players and parents and make the posters visible at our venues,” South athletic director Jarrett Sweckard said. “It’s good to reinforce expectations with players and parents and all involved in high school sports.”

Pueblo School District 60 athletic director Rick Macias is fully on board with the implementation of the CHSAA policy.

“We’re going to put the posters at Dutch Clark Stadium, the Events Center and Runyon Field as well as all our high school and middle schools,” Macias said. “We’re hoping we don’t have to use the cards, but if fans get out of hand, we’ll warn them first with a yellow card and if it continues, we’ll use a red card.

“We’ve gone a little farther in that we’re going to make the people who get red cards to talk to the athletic directors or myself, meet with us at the next South-Central League or middle school meeting. We’re hoping to slow this (fan behavior) down.”

Centennial athletic director John Ward is behind the policy as well.

“All those quotes on that poster, I always emphasize at my parents meetings,” Ward said. “A lot of this is driven by referee shortages. I think it’s going to be good that people see it’s not something we’re making up.

“CHSAA is emphasizing expectations and consequences. I’ve had to talk to people more at soccer than any other sport. I’m glad that CHSAA is making it real clear for the fans.”

The new venue sportsmanship expectations also will be in place at all CHSAA state championship events beginning this season.

Chieftain interim sports editor Jeff Letofsky can be reached at jletofsky@chieftain.com or on Twitter @JeffLetofsky.

CHSAANow.com contributed to this article