HS Students Defend Right to Vocally Shame Opponents

Wisconsin sportsmanship email is an airrrr balllll
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2016 2:44 PM CST
HS Students Defend Right to Vocally Shame Opponents
Wisconsin is attempting to crack down on opponent-shaming chants at high-school basketball games. It's not going well.   (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association is receiving some taunting of its own after it attempted to crack down on unsportsmanlike chants at high-school basketball games last month, the New York Times reports. According to an email sent out to schools in December, some of the disrespectful chants the WIAA frowns upon include "air ball," "scoreboard," "you can't do that," and "season's over." The response from students—deprived of their favorite opponent-shaming taunts—was swift. April Gehl—the leading scorer on her high-school basketball team—was suspended five games after tweeting "EAT [expletive] WIAA" in response to the email, the Times reports. Her tweet and suspension drew attention nationally.

"Gehl is a true hero for bringing these rules to light," writes Kenny Ducey at Sports Illustrated. "In what state is a 16-year-old kid yelling 'airrrrr-ballllll' considered something that’s so disrespectful it needs to be banned?" Meanwhile, the Times reports students at two Wisconsin high schools attended basketball games with duct tape over their mouths in protest this week. “The WIAA’s policy was well-intentioned,” an expert in youth rights says. “But it was also very foolish and inappropriate.” The WIAA claims its email was just a reiteration of sportsmanship guidelines and students are still allowed to show team spirit. "Not wanting to restrict creativity or enjoyment, an enthusiastic and boisterous display of support for a school’s team is welcomed and encouraged at interscholastic events when directed in a positive manner," the email states. (More Wisconsin stories.)

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