By Renn Hoopes
MHS Assistant Principal / Athletic Director
All members of the Utah High School Activities Association have taken on the task of educating our entire school communities with the Raise the Bar program.
We feel this sportsmanship program is an education-based philosophy that will improve all high school sports and activities. We adhere to the fact that all high school activities are an extension for the academic classroom.
If you have attended a winter sporting activity, you may have noticed the “Raise the Bar and Help us Earn a Star” banner hanging in the gym or on the electronic message center.
We have been encouraged by UHSAA to incorporate this sportsmanship program in our school. We understand that people pulling together can make great things happen.
Our goal is to Teach, Enforce, Award, and Model appropriate ethical behavior at our high school contests. We are hoping that all parents and stake holders will TEAM up with us to help us reach the 5 star level.
What that means for us is we are undertaking the task to achieve five sportsmanship initiatives. The following outline is what it should look like to the outside observer during our pep rallies and games:
The first initiative is DO ROWDY RIGHT! That means we cheer for our team and not against the opponent. We have observed some very fun and exciting things with our high school fans during the winter sports season. We have also had to make a few adjustments to some cheers.
We have posted a code of ethics and expectations for positive sportsmanship, which is on our electronic message center. During the school day we expect certain appropriate behaviors in the classroom, and we also believe our extra-curricular activities are an extension of the school day and we expect appropriate behavior at all of our contests as well. All of our activities are supervised by adults and student leaders. Help us TEAM-up to raise the bar and we are all winners.
The second is the “WE WILL” Sportsmanship Pledge which means our high school will have ALL participants and coaches sign a participation agreement to do the following: Commit to raising the bar by pledging to play fair and by the rule, represent our school with integrity, treat opponents with dignity, respect officials and coaches, value the opportunity to compete, thank those who support us, always do our best to achieve what we can individually and as a team, and when the game is over shake hands win or lose.
We also have our public address announcer read a pregame sportsmanship blurb to remind everyone how to act. We are in the process of creating a video tape which involves all of our programs completing their pledge.
Third is the Statewide Leadership Conference (June 23, 2012). All UHSAA member schools will have two student leaders participate in this state-wide conference. Our school has yet to name these two individuals.
The fourth initiative is to Promote the Positive – our school will submit positive stories or inspiring photos to UHSAA. We also intend to recognize legends of the game who exemplifies the highest ideals of sportsmanship. We will be selecting a FAN-tom FAN who will attend games and report on a blog spot on the sportsmanship page. We will also recognize deserving individuals/teams with the “GOOD SPORT AWARD” during the spring assembly. One local dedicated parent, Bill Bateman, has been writing stories to the major local newspapers, but we are looking for students who want to take on this challenge.
The fifth initiative is to Raise the Bar, and Earn Your Star! This initiative encompasses all the previous ones to a big check list.
• We are hanging our sportsmanship banner in the gym to show progress.
• Post the expectations for the school and community fans.
• Have all our athletes and parents sign a sportsmanship pledge.
• We expect ZERO coaches to be ejected, and if they do they must pay for a NFHS coaches conduct class to be completed within 30 days of the ejection.
• Read a sportsmanship message prior to every home varsity sporting event.
• Hold parent orientation meetings prior to the first contest in all sports.
• Review with all team captains the importance of being a role model for good sportsmanship.
• Having met all four of the previous levels of the initiatives. We have to apply to the UHSAA every June to prove we have met the requirements to earn our STAR to be posted on the banner.
This will take us approximately five years. We need your help and we need your support. Shaquille O’Neal said, “Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you do repeatedly.” As educators we can teach until we are blue in the face, but we must help each other ACT properly. Knute Rockne spoke on this issue when he said, “One person practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it.” We must help our student athletes develop the attitude expressed by the late great Mike Singletary when he said, “Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play!” I believe our student athletes play hard and because of this they are successful. As educators, coaches, and parents we must help each other stay on track and never lose sight of those statements. Help us “RAISE THE BAR, and EARN OUR STAR”