Sportsmanship policy to be considered
To reduce the chances of fights, some Kanawha County football coaches have told their players not to shake hands with opposing team members after games.
That's what members of the Kanawha County Board of Education have heard, and they don't think it's acceptable.
"Very few of our children are going to make a living by athletics. But what they learn from being on a team . . . are life lessons," said board member Becky Jordon. "We need to make sure our kids play the game fair . . . no matter who wins or loses."
There is no countywide policy that addresses sportsmanship, Jordon said, and she suggested one might be needed after hearing that some schools might be lacking.
The board will consider such a policy during its regular meeting Thursday.
The 13-page proposed policy addresses sportsmanship for students, fans, coaches and school administrators. Although much of it seems common sense, board member Bill Raglin said it's important to clearly outline what is expected of everyone at an athletic event.
It's also important to realize students should be expected to behave appropriately in any setting, Raglin said. An action that seems ridiculous in a classroom - using profanity toward an administrator - is equally unacceptable on a playing field, he said, and the board needs to take that stance.
Board member Robin Rector agreed.
"I think what we fear we're seeing . . . is that there may be two different standards for your regular academic students and your athletic students," Rector said.
"If you're an academic student and you refuse to shake a teachers hand . . . you might be considered being insubordinate, disobedient, or not showing good choices."
The policy outlines expectations for those participating in an athletic event or attending one and includes punishments for those who break the rules.
For example, it calls for coaches to "demonstrate high ideals, good habits and desirable attitudes" and asks for athletes and fans to follow those standards.
An athlete or coach who is ejected from a game must miss additional games that year. The policy outlines a formula for determining how many games a person should miss, with increasing penalties for those ejected another time.
Kanawha County Schools would file criminal charges against any fan who "physically molests" an official, athlete or coach.
The policy is vague at points. It states unsportsmanlike allegations against a coach should be made to the superintendent but does not outline possible penalties or appeal procedures. In the student portion it states "a true 'sport' does not offer excuses for failures," and says all students shall maintain a high degree of physical fitness.
Rector said the policy wasn't set in stone yet and the board wants to make sure the regulations are fair without going too far. She understands athletic events can get heated, but she thinks it's important that students and coaches understand how to deal responsibly with those situations.
"Teenagers are emotional," Rector said. "They're emotional, but we have to teach them how to handle that. Because in life there are emotional situations."
The board will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at the school system's central offices on Elizabeth Street in Charleston.