AHSAA takes steps to end violence at sporting events

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2005

We have watched with increasing concern during the past few months as incidents of violence have taken place at sporting events across Alabama. Brawls between parents, students, players and coaches have gained the state and national spotlight, much to the chagrin of high school sports administrators and athletic officials. Thankfully, Dan Washburn, Executive Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, is taking steps to put a stop to it.

On Wednesday, Washburn held a news conference to announce the implementation of STAR (Stop, Think, Act and Replay), a sportsmanship program created by former Auburn punter Brian Shulman. The program is designed to teach respect for officials and offers lessons on dealing with confrontational parents, for example. &uot;We all hear these crazy stories involving parents fans or players,&uot; Shulman told the Montgomery Advertiser. &uot;It used to be that you would hear and see things in professional sports, then it was college and now it’s working its way down to the youth leagues. We’ve got to do something about it now.&uot;

Washburn noted that 51 players were ejected from high school football games during one weekend this season. Numbers like that are alarming, and suggests that coaches are not doing a good enough job instructing our student-athletes on good sportsmanship and respect for one’s opponent.

Meanwhile, so-called &uot;fans&uot; that attend a school sporting event would rather showcase their own arrogance and ignorance by spewing obscenities at the officials, coaches, players and other fans, rather than use this as an opportunity to support their school in a positive, upbeat manner. We applaud Washburn and the AHSAA’s initial steps toward solving this growing problem.

However, we feel that until the people both on the field and off recognize the consequences of their own behavior, then this is a problem that will not go away.