So at Ashland High basketball games this season, you can't even use the old "Fundamentals!" cheer when that opposing player gets called for traveling. Because that would be unsportsmanlike and wrong.
The athletic director at the Wisconsin high school is cracking down on all "negative" cheering, including just about everything you've ever done at a basketball game. This is going over quite well with the student body as you might imagine.
The issue came to light last year when a visitor, noticing the fans' behavior, asked if school officials were familiar with the WIAA sportsmanship rules. Ever since then the athletic director has been enforcing the rules. "You can't turn your backs, you can't single out an opponent, you can't single out a team, you can't say anything negative," Olson said.
That includes using phrases like "sieve," "what's the score," "overrated," "airball," and even singing "nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah, hey-hey-hey, good bye."
True story: At the high school where I formerly coached basketball, Serra in San Mateo (Calif.), we had an annual showdown with St. Ignatius of San Francisco (home of Dan Fouts!). It was called the Jungle Game, due to the St. Ignatius coach one year commenting that "Playing at Serra is like playing in a jungle." Students ran with the theme, decorating the gym with palm fronds and stuffed jungle animals. The atmosphere was raucous; one had to arrive at the gym an hour early just to get a seat.
Then one year the St. Ignatius principal called the Serra principal and demanded that the jungle game be toned down. No more negative cheering, and, get this: He claimed that the decorations were "intimidating the St. Ignatius players." A compromised was reached, in which Serra agreed to remove "two-thirds of the palm fronds." I am not lying about this.
We live in an unsportsmanlike world, and high school is supposed to prepare young people for it. Spineless compromise sends the wrong message, unless you're planning to live in Disneyland, or Congress. (Rumor has it that when bin Laden heard of the palm frond compromise, he released a video which included nothing but him giggling).
Besides, what fun is a basketball game in which you can't wave a Peyton Manning big head?
Ashland Cracks Down On Unsportsmanlike Cheers [Duluth Tribune]