Brown City

Community Schools

An Open Letter to the Frantic Fan

Dear Frantic:

    If someone were to ask you what represents the greatest peril to the survival of high school sports, you might say specialization, overemphasis, officials, coaches, or administrators. You'd be wrong.

    The greatest peril to interscholastic athletes is you, my friend. You, the frantic fan.

    Specialization and overemphasis can, and are, being curbed; officials trained, coaches and administrators are guided, but you, Mr. Fan, you answer to no one and no one, that is, until a program has been ruined, students penalized, young images shattered, all because you didn't control yourself.

    Perhaps it’s not your fault, perhaps you have never been exposed to proper spectator decorum. At any rate, a few definitive guidelines may serve to protect the program and, at the same time, enable you to better enjoy whatever contest you are viewing.

    High school athletics were not developed as a sounding board for your immaturity, as a vehicle to "let off steam," rid yourself of "frustrations," etc. This may be all right in professional sports, where you pay a premium price to vent your emotions at athletes who are paid a premium salary to put up with your antics.

    It's different in interscholastic contests. Your ticket, at a minimal cost compared to college or pro games, entitles you to one thing - the privilege of watching the more talented students of two schools exhibit what they've learned in the athletic classroom.

    For the athletic field, court or diamond is merely an extension of the classroom; if it were anything else it would have little reason to survive.

    You would not think of entering a math, history or English classroom, flask on hip, and berate, often curse and physically abuse the teacher or students. Yet all too frequently you think nothing of harassing players and coaches in their classroom - the field of play.

    High school administrators have always given you the benefit of the doubt, Mr. Fan, sometimes because you were a player's parent or an influential citizen. But you're being put on notice that administrators can no longer tolerate your childish, immature behavior, whether you're a recent graduate, a parent, or merely a resident of the community.

    If, indeed, you are sincerely interested in the continuation of interscholastic athletics, then keep a few basic points in mind:

  1. There is no such thing as a "right" to participate in interscholastic athletics. Whereas most academics subjects are mandated by the proper authorities and each student has a "right" to be exposed to them, interscholastic athletics are considered a "privilege" and the player or spectator who avails themselves of it is expected to conduct himself or herself accordingly.
  2. Your team does not belong to the community. It belongs to the school and that school as voluntarily agreed to abide by a certain set of rules, so that all athletes may compete under the same standards. If these rules offend any special groups or individuals to the point where they cannot conduct themselves rationally, then, by all means, these persons should be encouraged to direct their energies elsewhere.
  3. Accept the fact that all high school athletes make mistakes. They're not perfect, and never will be. There is compensation, though, as these mistakes make high school athletics exciting and unpredictable.
  4. Remember that your coach is a teacher first, and coach second, and anytime you join any misguided souls in trying to reverse this order, you are taking the first step in destroying your program. Remember, no coach, player, or administrator wants to see a program fail. In most cases, failure can be attributed to the merciless pressure of you, the fan, who played little or no part in the building of the program. Small wonders that the high school coaching field has the highest turnover of any coaching level.
  5. Make an attempt to learn the rules of the game and then leave the officials alone. Much time and effort is spent in the training of these officials. The spectator who constantly criticizes them is almost always ignorant of the rules.
  6. Finally, keep in mind that you are a guest of the school, and that while winning is certainly an admirable goal, it is hollow if it comes at the expense of morals, ethics, and just plain common sense.

    A beloved president once said that the world would soon forget his words, but remember the actions of his soldiers.

    As the years pass, the score of a contest becomes relatively unimportant, sometimes forgotten. But your conduct remains ingrained forever in the minds of those who were most affect.

    Will they be proud or ashamed? The choice is yours!

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