OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Kansas high schools are serious about enforcing the rulebook at their sporting events.
A student chant we’ve all heard got some teenagers tossed out of a recent game. High school sports administrators in Kansas stand by their rule.
When a basketball player attempts a shot that doesn’t hit the rim, fans from the opposing team often chant the word, “airball.” When a group of students from Blue Valley Northwest High School did that during Tuesday’s game against Blue Valley High School, it lead them to getting kicked out the game.
During the second quarter of that contest, Northwest High School administrators ejected 20-30 students from the school’s spirit section for chanting, “airball.” Chris Daniel, a junior at the school, was one of them. Daniel told FOX4 News he and his friends are close to the player who missed the shot, and they meant the chant as gentle teasing among friends.
“A school administrator just came up and told us it was time to go, and we needed to get out,” Daniel said on Thursday. “ I understand what they’re trying to do and enforce the rule so it’s a friendly environment, but at the same time, I think there needs to be some change,” Daniel said.
School district leaders cited Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) Rule 52, which regards conduct at sporting events. It specifically points to chanting “air-ball” and other taunting practices as being poor sportsmanship.
Daniel and other students that FOX4 News spoke with complain the rule is too strict, and isn’t enforced equally among Blue Valley Schools. Drew Kaufman, a senior at the school, said students were warned, but most couldn’t hear the instruction, since the gym was so loud. Kaufman is also a former varsity basketball player at Northwest High School.
“As a player, it makes it more fun, since you’re going through the adversity,” Kaufman said.
“I don’t think he should have been ejected at all.”
Jeremy Holaday, KSHSAA Associate Executive Director, explained the rule is fair and clear, and that it provides opportunity for on-site administrators to enforce the rule at their own discretion, based on what’s happening.
“If you can see something’s brewing here, something as simple as yelling ‘airball,’ can set this off to the next level, that could create even worse damage. We have to be mindful of that and stop it as soon as we can,” Holaday said.
A statement from Blue Valley School District reads as follows:
“Students, families and our community are an important part of the “game day” experience for our high school activities and athletics. We expect that our school communities represent themselves and our schools in a positive way during these events. This includes following KSHSAA expectations around sportsmanship, as well as the common expectations for student sections that Eastern Kansas League student leaders agreed upon at a student summit this fall.”
Students complained on Thursday that Rule 52 steals some innocent fun from high school sports. KSHSAA is among the governing bodies for high school sports that have cracked down on bad behavior at sporting events, in part, to retain game officials as the number of referees and umpires continues to shrink nationally.
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