I enjoy going to high school sporting events when I'm not working high school sporting events. But sitting in the crowd without headphones on exposes me to a nasty side of sports. Fans constantly griping at the officials. And I sometimes hear criticisms leveled toward the players.

It's unfortunate and appears to be getting worse.

The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) on Thursday issued a memo addressing "racist events" at some games. The high school league, alongside a number of education associations, is launching "an initiative to improve behavior at high school events as well as schools in general."

It's not only an issue in Minnesota, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is addressing the disturbing trend as well. In a news release, they state the need for "a wake-up call to get back on course, to regain focus and to 'get with the program.' That time is at hand in high school sports as it relates to unsportsmanlike conduct."

They site several examples of incidents at unnamed locations over the past few months.

  • "The mayor of a city was ejected from his daughter's high school basketball game after threatening a referee.
  • A volleyball official was followed off the court by a coach who was shouting obscenities.
  • A referee was assaulted and knocked unconscious during a basketball tournament.
  • A student from the opposing schools in the stands shouted racist comments at a high school basketball player on the court.
  • At another game in another state, inappropriate chants were made against the opposing team's players on the court.
  • While it was at a lower level, continued poor parent behavior in the stands led a Central New York youth basketball league to end the season early."

The article states, "If coaches act in a sportsmanlike manner, their behavior sets the tone for players, spectators and others...There must be a collaborative, working relationship between contest officials and game administration to promote good sportsmanship and safely conduct the contest."

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