From the Trenches: Part 11

In this series, we dive into the various issues that athletic directors face and offer up strategies to thrive in the face of these challenges.

From the Trenches: Part 11

The Issues Facing Education Based Athletics & Strategies for Today's Athletic Administrators

By Brent Buttjer and Scott Garvis, CMAA, Bound AD in Residence

Editors Note: This is a mutli-part series offering insight on the most pressing issues facing education based athletics and how they can best be addressed.

Part 11: Student Sections and Fan Behavior

Poor sportsmanship and disrespectful behavior can have a negative impact on the game, the athletes, and the overall culture of the school. By implementing these strategies, athletic directors can create a positive and respectful sports culture that encourages good sportsmanship and positive behavior among students, parents, and other spectators.

  1. Education and Communication: Athletic directors can provide education and communication to students, parents, and other spectators regarding expectations for behavior at athletic events. This could include sharing codes of conduct, posting signs, making announcements, and providing training for student leaders.
  2. Positive Reinforcement: One way to encourage positive behavior is to offer positive reinforcement for good sportsmanship. This could include recognizing student sections and individuals who exhibit appropriate behavior, offering incentives for good behavior, and creating a culture of positive reinforcement.
  3. Consequences for Inappropriate Behavior: In order to deter inappropriate behavior, there must be consequences for those who engage in it. This could include ejection from the game, suspension of attendance at future games, and even legal consequences for particularly egregious behavior.
  4. Increased Security: Athletic directors can work with school administration and law enforcement to increase security at games. This could include more police presence, security cameras, and trained security personnel to monitor and address inappropriate behavior.
  5. Peer Monitoring: Athletic directors can work with student leaders to create a peer monitoring program. This program would involve students monitoring the behavior of their peers and reporting inappropriate behavior to school officials. This would create a culture of accountability and discourage negative behavior.
  6. Engage Parents: Athletic directors can work to engage parents in addressing negative behavior. This could include parent-teacher conferences, parent meetings, and parent education sessions focused on creating a positive sports culture.
“The importance of creating a positive and safe environment for our student-athletes, fans, and spectators. While student sections and fan behavior can present challenges, let's view them as opportunities to educate, engage, and elevate our school culture. By setting clear expectations, promoting sportsmanship, and encouraging inclusivity, we can create a vibrant and enthusiastic atmosphere that reflects the best of our school spirit. Let's work together to make every game an unforgettable experience for everyone involved."
~ Brent Buttjer

About Scott Garvis, CMAA, Bound AD in Residence

Scott Garvis has been a leader and innovator in intercollegiate and interscholastic athletics development and fundraising for more than 25 years – as an athletics director, coach, association board member, adviser and editorial contributor.

Scott has a record of excellence as Athletics Director, Director of Activities and Assistant Principal, having led the athletics departments at six high schools or school districts in three states.  He has achieved unparalleled success at all levels of high school athletics: large public school districts, a small public high school, a private school, and with state and national athletics administrator associations.