Jackson officials try to clarify, enforce fan behavior

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Officials at Jackson High School say there has been no change in the policy toward student behavior at basketball, just a clarification that falls in line with Missouri State High School Activities Association rules.

"They can sit together, cheer together and holler together," Jackson athletic director Kevin Bohnert said, "but we want to make sure that kids are coming to the games to cheer for our kids and support our teams, and just not singling out any particular player from the other team.

"There are specific guidelines as members of the MSHSAA that schools have to follow, and the MSHSAA holds member schools accountable for enforcing guidelines on acceptable behavior."

The Southeast Missourian has received comments through Fan Speak in the past week expressing concerns about rules being implemented on the school's student cheering section. The newspaper also received a letter complaining about the student group's behavior at the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament, which took place during the last week of December at the Show Me Center.

MSHSAA spokesman Rick Kindhart said the association's jurisdiction takes over in the postseason but that the association does work with member schools to develop similar guidelines for fans behavior.

The association passes written complaints to member schools and follows up with the administration. According to the MSHSAA handbook, schools are responsible for the behavior of its fans home and away, and the association's executive board has the power to suspend schools for the unsportsmanlike conduct of fans as well as coaches and teams.

"We try to work with schools on complaints during the regular season," Kindhart said. "We hear from students who say adults are killing school spirit, but what administrators are trying to do is create a family atmosphere."

Jackson sent a contingent to the MSHSAA's Sportsmanship Summit in August, the only local school to do so.

"We do a lot of things at Jackson to promote the value of sportsmanship," Bohnert said. "The students have always had a strong reputation in supporting school activities in a positive way.

"We have a very enthusiastic following, and we want to make sure it's being done in the right way."

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