Sunday, May 27, 2001

Rules cool fans' tempers

Rowdiness not allowed at games

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        MADISON TOWNSHIP — Leave your temper at home if you want to attend sporting events in the Madison Schools.

        Fans who can't control their outbursts or who continually berate referees, coaches or athletes may find themselves barred from events under a policy adopted last week by the Madison Board of Education.

        “We're trying to break some new ground here and clean up the fringe element who abuse coaches, referees and sometimes even the participants,” said Jeff Smith, Madison's athletics director and head basketball coach.

        The change is one that is welcomed by student-athlete Jason Tinch, 16.

        “I play on the soccer team and we're not very good,” Jason said. “It's embarrassing to have people yelling at the referees or coaches when it's actually your fault. It affects how you play if parents or fans are yelling at you.”

        Jason's father, Scott, agrees with the change but says it will be difficult to enforce.

        “You can put all the signs up you want,” Mr. Tinch said. “But I think it has to come from the kids telling their parents not to embarrass them.”

        Beginning with the 2001-02 school year, obnoxious fans will be asked to leave sporting events, perhaps for the entire season, or be barred from events for the year. Coaches are working on specifics, Mr. Smith said.

        “I say good for them,” said Deborah Moore, commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association. “I am all for it. Buying a ticket doesn't entitle you to say or do anything you want.”

        Superintendent William Caudill said discussion on the change began almost six months ago. Before bringing the matter to the board for public comment, parents, students, coaches and community members talked about the situation.

        “We found at sports events our spectators' sportsmanship was deteriorating,” Mr. Caudill said. “We want our community to know what our expectations are, and we want them involved.”

        Civil-rights attorney Scott Greenwood said he doesn't have a problem with the plan — provided it's enforced on both home and away spectators.

        “It's got to be equal and not based on who's being criticized,” said Mr. Greenwood, a consultant for the American Civil Liberties Union.


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