The OSAA adopts new sportsmanship rules for 2019
Although it has not been the only incident of bad sportsmanship at high school athletic events in Oregon, an event at a game involving the Parkrose girls varsity basketball team last January has led to changes in the OSAA sportsmanship rules.
Those rules include changes in the announcements that are made prior to and during games and matches as well as changes in the cheers that cheerleaders or spectators may use at contests.
Parkrose is one of the most diverse schools in Oregon with 28 different languages spoken by students from a cross-section of worldwide cultures.
That diversity is usually celebrated, but that was not the case in January when it was alleged that three individuals during the Parkrose away contest subjected the Parkrose team to racial taunts and monkey noises.
What was most troubling about the incident was that, according to reports from those in attendance, none of the adults in attendance did anything to stop the behavior.
According to an OSAA op-ed article published in June, similar problems are widespread across Oregon.
The OSAA and the Oregon State Legislature have both taken steps to address the problem.
The legislators passed House Bill 3409, which requires a complaint process be developed to address use of derogatory or inappropriate names at interscholastic events. That measure went into effect on Sept. 1.
While it is important to address problems after they have occurred, the OSAA has also taken steps to attempt to assure that similar incidents do not happen again.
Those steps include a new mandatory sportsmanship announcement prior to games as well as suggested announcements to make during certain portions of games.
In addition, the OSAA has adopted several new regulations concerning spectator conduct as well as emphasizing rules that were already in existence, but not always strictly enforced.
Rules that already existed but that will now be more strictly enforced include spectators may have signs no larger than 8.5x11 inches, artificial noisemakers are not allowed, and only cheerleaders may use large megaphones.
Spectators may have small megaphones as long as they are not electric.
Parents and students should particularly be aware of the signage rule as at least at Crook County it is commonplace for people to bring posterboard-sized signs to support a specific player, especially on special occasion such as senior night.
There are two rules that have either been added or that have been clarified for the 2019-2020 school year that all spectators should be aware of.
The first is the spectator code of conduct, which in part states, "All cheers, comments and actions shall be in direct support of one's team. No cheers, comments, or actions shall be directed at one's opponent or at contest officials. Some examples of unacceptable conduct include, but are not limited to: disrespecting players by name, number or position; negative cheers or chants, throwing objects on the playing surface; use of derogatory or racially explicit language; discriminatory harassment or conduct that creates a hostile environment that is disruptive to the educational environment."
To clarify that rule, the OSAA gives examples in the question and answer portion of their handbook.
In that section of the handbook it says, "What are some examples of cheers that do not encourage a positive atmosphere?" In other words, what are examples of cheers that are no longer allowed.
The answer states, "Any yell that is intended to antagonize an opponent or detracts from a positive atmosphere. Air Ball! Air Ball! booing, You! You! You!, or You got swatted! are examples of yells that will not encourage a positive atmosphere."
In other words, cheers that have been used at least since I was in high school are no longer deemed appropriate and cheerleaders, students, parents and other spectators who engage in those kinds of cheers or chants can be removed from the game, banned from further competition, and even charged with trespassing.
Making noise during a free throw or serve in volleyball is still allowed, provided it is just noise and not words.
In addition, the OSAA has also added a complaint procedure in the event that the new rules were violated at a competition.
When an act in violation of the new rule occurs, any witness to the event may file a complaint with the OSAA.
Once the complaint is investigated, if the OSAA believes that the school handled the incident properly, no further action will be taken.
However, if the OSAA finds a pattern of inappropriate behavior, or if school officials failed to properly address a situation, then the OSAA has the right to penalize the school.
Penalties can include fines, forfeitures, probation, suspension of membership from the OSAA, etc.
Personally, I never had a problem with someone yelling "Air Ball" when I was shooting a free throw, but it looks like those days are gone for good.
Whether you agree with the new rules or not, the OSAA is serious about changing spectator behavior and the rules are here to stay.
Although the fall sports season has just barely started, I have already witnessed several violations of the new rules.
Keep in mind that booing is one of the things that is now specifically not allowed.
At the first home football game of the year, I was standing next to an official who was not working that particular game when a group of spectators booed an official's call. The official and I discussed the call and both agreed that the officials on the field had gotten it right.
Now, I understand frustration with a missed call at a crucial time. I also understand getting emotional at a game. Just be aware, at least at Oregon high school games, it is to no longer going be tolerated.
Don't get mad at me, I'm just the messenger, but if spectators from CCHS do not change their behaviors, this may be a long year, and one that may include fines and sanctions. We have got to clean up our act, or eventually there will be a price to pay.
Things that have gone on for years and become part of the culture are no longer allowed. Deal with it, or the OSAA will.
If you want to see the rules for spectator contact for yourself go to OSAA.org, go to Governance at the top of the page and then click on handbooks. The section in question is rule 3, pages 20-23 in the PDF version of the handbook.
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