Center Grove High School public address announcer
High school football fans may have noticed less enthusiasm in the stands now that the state tournament is underway. They can thank the Indiana High School Athletic Association for that.
The association’s restrictions for playoff games include banners, posters, noise makers, fireworks, recorded music, animal mascots and the throwing of toilet tissue, baby powder and other articles. The IHSAA says this ensures that facilities are as neutral as possible, negating any home team advantage.
When asked about the restrictions, IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox replied:
“This office receives complaints every week. We are charged with attempting to provide the most level playing field possible, which becomes increasingly difficult when high school hosts try to imitate professional sporting events and create home court or field advantages that sometimes verge on intimidation and in nearly all cases are unsportsmanlike.”
Merriam-Webster defines sportsmanship as: “Conduct (as fairness, respect for one’s opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport.”
As for the other restrictions, if a banner had offensive language or suggestive connotations, it should and would be deemed disrespectful and inappropriate and therefore unsportsmanlike. But a banner that merely reads, “Go Trojans!” or something to that effect? That would be unsportsmanlike?
Noisemakers and music are now unsportsmanlike? How is a noisemaker or a 15-second sound clip between downs unfair, disrespectful, or ungracious as the definition suggests? If the lyrics to the music or the sound from a noisemaker were explicit and inappropriate, it would fall into that category and there would be no place for them.
This past year the IHSAA recently ran a series of commercials and public service announcements where a local WNBA star and our state’s former governor are at a high school athletic contest. The dialogue reads: “Are you a fan of amazing spirit, incredible drama and affordable ticket prices? High school sports. Pure spirit, pure sport, pure entertainment value.”
Unfortunately, the spirit is now restricted, the drama is brought on by complaints, and the entertainment value is affected by both. Relatives of players and student bodies will always be there to cheer on their team. But if someone is new to a community and views these commercials, then decides to take in a high school football or basketball game in this state, they are going to wonder, “What spirit? What entertainment value?”