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The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association is the governing body for high school sports in the state.
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association is the governing body for high school sports in the state. (Photo: WIAA)

WIAA rules seek to curb student chants such as "air ball" and "scoreboard"

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association is trying to curb student-section chants at high school sporting events, including "Air ball!" and "Scoreboard!" with rules aimed at promoting respect.

Perhaps fans will rise up with a strident "You can’t do that!" in response.

The WIAA, which has had the policy in place for years, sent out an email in December to reemphasize it, especially as pertaining to student cheers at games. But the rules only recently became news, thanks to a suspension of an athlete last week who lambasted them on Twitter.

The WIAA's 40-page Sportsmanship Guide is available online, but the December email from director of communications Todd Clark has not been made public. According to Post-Crescent Media, it conveys a message to increase fair conduct and graciousness among spectators at games. Specifically, the email says the state athletic association is seeking to reduce the "amount of chants by student sections directed at opponents and/or opponents’ supporters that are clearly intended to disrespect."

The WIAA email reportedly provided examples of now-banned chants, which included longtime favorites like "Fundamentals," "Sieve," "We can’t hear you," "Air Ball," "You can’t do that," "There’s a net there," "Scoreboard" and "Season’s over" during tournament play. (Add the obligatory clap, clap, clap-clap-clap to each for the full effect.)

This will be tough to take for high-school students, who for years have conceived of mildly offensive, surprisingly clever and amusingly inane cheers with which to (largely playfully) praise their teams and jeer the opposition. Looking back at my experience as a high school athlete and fan, these new rules – besides being a total lame drag – would have hurt attendance and entertainment for less-popular sports like soccer and volleyball, which benefited from a rowdier crowd element. The "scoreboard" chant, for one, is perhaps as ancient and adored as sport itself.

The first real victim of the new rules, Hilbert basketball player April Gehl, was suspended five games by her high school last week for a tweet directed at the WIAA about the changes that contained profanity – although the governing body told Post-Crescent Media it did not issue the suspension nor direct the school to do so.

Clark did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Whether they like it or not, it seems, Wisconsin high-school students will just have to be more creative – and constructive and encouraging! – when cheering on their sports teams. Or, when think think of the new fan rules, they may just go with that one chant that concerns the excrement of male cattle.

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