Will New WIAA Rules Really Ban Booing?
SUNNYSIDE, Wash - Bill Gant is very opposed to how fans treat athletes and officials in this day and age. Gant is the District 5 Representative for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, or W.I.A.A., and he says fans have really started to become unruly and just downright mean! "I remember this one incident," recalls Gant "when there was this pack of about six boys picking out certain players on the court (at a girl's basketball game) and yelling, 'Hey 21! You've got a big butt!', and that just doesn't fly. Not in my gym."
Now a few months later, fans have been told that recent proposals to the W.I.A.A. would ban booing of any sort at high school sporting events. Gant says that's simply not true. "I don't want to point fingers at the media, but it's been blown out of proportion. It's like someone looked through the rules and focused on the booing part of it and said that's what will sell newspapers, so that's what we're going to zero in on." In reality, there is no way an official or athletic director could actually prohibit someone from booing. "It's a natural human reaction," says Pasco Athletic Director Le Burns, "whether it's a big sigh from the audience or a cheer, that's just going to happen. It's when it goes beyond that that we want to curtail."
W.I.A.A. Director Mike Colbrese says it was the schools themselves that approached the W.I.A.A. because there wasn't a uniform code of conduct throughout the state. Colbrese says that these new policies that are being drawn up aren't really new at all, rather they simply coalesce the sportmanship sentiments of the state of Washington into one document.
Interestingly enough, it's not the students where administators find the problems, it's the parents. "The students are fine, it's the parents that are the problem," says Gant. Burns adds, "I tell my parents that hey, that kid out there is someone's child, and that official is someone's child and that coach is someone's child. Parents should treat everyone like they would treat their own child."
Burns and Gant also remind us that high school athletics are simply an extension of the classroom. They want the kids to behave on the court, the pitch, and the field the same way they would behave in their English classes. "It's high school," says Burns, "it's just a game, it's supposed to be fun!"