County-wide Sports: MCPS considers punishment for inappropriate fans

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Head Coach Maggie Dyer speaks to her team about the upcoming game plan as they are taking a break.

Before every single MCPS event an announcement is played about the respect and sportsmanship of the game. Student fans are supposed to be “supporters” and not produce any sort of “negative criticism.” This announcement has been a staple for athletics and is now a custom around all MCPS high school events. The one problem is that it does not specifically talk about what “negative criticism”entails.

Students seem to take this definition with a grain of salt, and the intensity of the game overrides some fans’ ability to behave themselves properly. MCPS should understand that taking a stand and being specific is the only possible way to start change. The main issue is not the booing or trash talking, but instead the discriminatory comments. Especially during this tough time, MCPS needs to make a change and take action on these comments. To meet this need, instead of simply stating that “negative criticism” is not allowed, MCPS has now changed the announcement to state that “all discriminatory acts are forbidden.” This specific change is important because all students need to understand the difference between fun trash talking and unacceptable hurtful comments.

The main way to change this besides the announcement is to create a punishment for these acts and to get student athletes to convey when these are heard. This does not only include racial discrimination, but AntiSemitism, ableism and sexism as well. There should be no place for comments such as “she’s good for a girl” or “he can’t jump because he’s Jewish.” These seem like funny jokes or something that might be taken lightly, but could also really hurt an athlete. “During the soccer playoffs, it seemed like I heard these comments consistently, and it did not feel like it was going to stop,” senior defender Thomas Jezek said.

The announcement change was not the only suggested idea: other options include a town hall with Principal Kim Boldon speaking or group conversations in homeroom classes, where we all express our feelings about the comments that are heard during games. The Student Athletic Leadership council (SALC) is continuing conversation around helpful change.

The punishment for prohibited comments has not been decided and SALC is looking for comments and suggestions. If any of you have ideas or thoughts please email me at [email protected]