June 2020 - 8

A.D.MINISTRATION athle tic dire ctor strate g ie s
the ad's role
IN FAN CONTROL
By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA
Sportsmanship and fan control are not new concerns
- this issue has been center-stage for decades and still
remains a problem for many. As a result, some state
athletic associations have implemented programs and
initiatives, and state legislatures have passed laws to
combat unruly fans.
During the 2013-2014 school year, for example, the
New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association
introduced a ban on trash-talking which meant an
automatic disqualification. This initiative also covers fans
and includes verbal harassment and physical contact. On
the other side of the country, the Oregon School Activities
Association created a Positive Cheer initiative in which no
negative cheers are allowed. This is in keeping with the
concept that athletics has educational value.
While these state-sponsored efforts are a great step
forward with respect to controlling disrespectful,
problematic fans, the ultimate responsibility still falls on
the athletic administrator's shoulders. It is incumbent for
all schools to have prepared fan expectations, protocols
for dealing with those who operate outside the parameters
and take proactive steps to prevent and solve problems
when they do occur. Is this a huge and important
responsibility? It sure is, but also one which you cannot
avoid or abdicate.
Not everyone may be ready to accept this ultimate
responsibility, because there may be quite a bit of
resistance and it may not be popular. When the topic of
sportsmanship, for example, was being discussed at a
state conference, one athletic director shared " you have to
let the kids have some fun - it can't all be confining rules
and expectations. " And another quickly added, " you can't
constantly say 'no'. Zero tolerance just doesn't work. "
Are you kidding? Not only as a professional in an
educational setting but as an adult, it is an athletic
administrator's responsibility to explain expectations and
hold everyone to those standards. Sportsmanship and fan
behavior are about respect, fair play, and doing what is
right. One cannot sacrifice these qualities and values in
the pursuit of fun or by not wanting to say 'no.'
What needs to be done for better fan control? The
following suggestions should help.
1
.Clearly write down what your expectations are
.relating to the behavior of fans. Include in your
document what is acceptable and what is not and then
communicate these standards to students, parents, and
community members. This can and should be done
8 JUNE 2020
in your pre-season parent meetings, posted on your
website, included in handbooks and newsletters, and
copies available at your ticket booth for distribution.
Use any and all vehicles that you can in order to get your
message across and make sure that you get upper-level
administrative approval before publicizing or distributing
your guidelines.
2
3
4
5
6
.Send a copy of your fan expectations to the athletic
.administrators of each one of your opponents for all
sports. By doing this with an e-mail attachment, you can
and should ask this individual to forward your document
to all of his parents prior to the game. This is a major
proactive step so that all visitors are aware of your school's
standards and the way that things will be handled in your
setting. Too often, visitors proclaim, " We don't do this at
our school. " Well, this IS what we expect here.
.Analyze your security needs prior to each season.
.The number of individuals required will vary according
to the venue, the sport, perhaps the history with your
opponent, the time that the game begins, and will ultimately
end and you will also want to take into consideration
rivalry games. Therefore, each game has to be considered
independently and this list has to be sent to the local
precinct or person responsible for scheduling security.
.Use public address announcements at games to
.remind and reinforce your expectations for fans.
In addition, each venue may have some additional
guidelines which should be carefully and clearly
worded. The game announcer should be prepped by
the athletic administrator and understand when these
announcements should be made. A written copy of the
various announcements should always be available as
part of the game management checklist.
.Develop a workable and suitable protocol which you
.will use for dealing with disruptive, out-of-controls
fans. A good recommendation is to quietly walk up in
the stands and sit down next to an individual causing a
problem. Why take this approach? You don't want to draw
more attention or create a larger problem by involving
other spectators than already exists. Trying to be subtle,
calm, and unobtrusive is an important technique to use.
.Distribute written guidelines to security personnel
.- off-duty police officers, school resource officers, and
teacher-chaperones - with respect to where to stand and
what specifically to look for in the stands. You don't want
them, for example, to be standing in small groups talking
the entire evening, because they do have an important

June 2020

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