I'm the first one to agree that the behavior of spectators at sporting events has gone downhill in recent years. From the NBA fan-player brawl in Detroit a couple of years ago to foaming-at-the-mouth parents confronting officials at Little League ballgames, it's clear that there are those who think that they have carte blanche if they pay money for a ticket to be in the stands. (Though what's going on here is nothing compared to what's been happening at soccer games in Europe - i.e. no one has died.) But somehow, I think the folks at the Washington (State) Interscholastic Activities Association are taking things a step too far. They are considering tough new guidelines on fan behavior at high-school sporting events that would include a ban on booing. As Mike Colbrese, the executive director of the WIAA told ABC News, "I'm trying to figure out why people think booing is acceptable in the first place."
Again, there's no validation for fans going overboard - but a ban on booing? Are they crazy? The idea behind the restrictions - which are not law as of yet - would be to prevent attempts to intimidate members of the visiting team. But that's precisely what the term "home team advantage" is all about. There shouldn't be a red carpet rolled out to the visitors. They should have to deal with some level of heckling and prodding and, yes, booing. And what about cheering for the home team - couldn't that be seen as "intimidating" the other side? Will we get to the point where high-school games will be held under a cone of silence?
For high school students, cheering - and booing - are rites of passage. And let's face it, for all the press over outrageous or violent acts of fan behavior, these incidents still are very few and far between. Yet a few bad apples again threaten to ruin things for everyone in the state of Washington - if these rules pass without a lot of, well, booing, that is.
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