TSSAA says school leaders focus on sportsmanship in 2020, beyond


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2020 Women’s Football Championship (Signal Mountain)

That’s why Sanchez is super vigilant about the measures and teachings of fair play – both in his school and in his extra service at the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.

The association presented the 2020-2021 disciplinary list and a 10-year expulsion summary report to the Oversight Council last month and posted both on TSSAA.org (see links below).

“I was in second grade when ‘Friday Night Lights’ was written (by HG Bissinger in 1990)”, Sanchez said. “When I was young you had no idea how unfortunate it was that there was so much pressure on these kids. Undue pressure; it was not healthy.

“So I just want to come back after COVID, all of us – coaches, administrators, everyone – keep saying, ‘how do we honor our love for the sport, for being on the team, for competing, but also make sure we don’t put it in a bad light? We’re not going to be happy when someone is hurt, we’re not going to be happy when someone gets out of character. I’m hopeful that there is a renewed commitment to just enjoy the sport, keeping the idea that while we are competitors, we also try to improve each other. “

The data suggests that there may be something in Sanchez’s vision – and that of the TSSAA.

A funny thing has happened during the 2020-21 competitive athletics calendar – there has been a measurable increase in sportsmanship by virtually every definable metric.

Football had just 19 players ejected last season for unsportsmanlike conduct – the first time there were fewer than 32 players in a decade and the first time fewer than 50 players have been ejected in six years.

Women’s football had only ejected 18 players in total – the sport’s lowest total since 2012-13. Women’s basketball saw only a dozen players withdrawn by officials, compared to 50 in the 2018-19 campaign.

“I think the pandemic and so many shortages in 2020 have certainly had an impact on her and this is what we have seen even going to matches as a staff and during our tournament series.”, said TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress. “We had several people who came to see us and said thank you for what you are doing, thank you for working so hard to give this opportunity to young people. I think it has reached our schools and our coaching teams. They are the key.

“When you talk about kids making the right decision and looking to coaches for advice, the coaches are the role models, the ones kids look up to. And fans and everyone else in sports competitions look to the coaches as well. When coaches set the right tone, we can only continue to improve. “

Inside a new pristine school nestled at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, this is a message that was emphasized from the start, according to the school administration.

“In the spring of 2020, we lost the sport – and all that is good about them,” said Gatlinburg-Pittman high school principal Dr. AJ Bennett. “Then last summer and until the fall, we just prayed that our kids could compete at some level and with the fans. I think it really changed everyone’s perspective. We just felt blessed to be a part of the student athlete competition and talked about it with our coaches. Back to basics of what really matters. We got a reminder of what life is like without athletics and I think no one wants that.

The improvements across the Volunteer State – a testimonial from coaches, players and administrators, as well as perhaps the continued impact of TSSAA’s partnership with the Tennessee Titans on the Inside-Out initiative which promotes the goals of fair play – come at a time when many states are facing a lack of staff available to officiate events.

Indeed, the National Federation of State High School Associations addressed this subject this spring in “The NFHS Voice”.

The author of the story, Dr Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the NFHS, noted the following:

For other officials, however, the pandemic was a secondary concern to the verbal abuse they receive from fans – mostly parents. It is especially difficult for first-time managers to get over the verbal fire they hear from parents. In an article in the Salt Lake City Deseret News, Jeff Cluff, deputy director in charge of UHSAA officials, said the following about unruly fans in his condition:

“Parents are out of control. . . Due to the culture of clubs and super leagues, they think these games mean everything; we don’t see it that way in high school. Children learn, officials learn, coaches learn. We have a lot of people who are interested in officiating. If we could keep these officials, everything would be fine.

As the company moved closer to pre-COVID standards, it was still a gradual process on the playing fields at all levels, especially for high schools. TSSAA Deputy Executive Director Gene Menees wisely noted that the 2020-21 competition schedule had fewer contests overall, as some systems avoided fall and winter sports or slowly entered their seasons.

However, Menees pointed out, there was an almost palpable sense of gratitude in a return to competition – something that can be fostered even if the pandemic so gradually recedes into the rearview mirrors.

“I don’t care what it’s in our lives, and I’m guilty of taking it for granted, all of a sudden when something is taken away from you like athletics we realize it’s not about not just winning and losing”, Menees said. mentionned. “It’s about student participation.

“I’ve said over the years, it’s a high school game, and I don’t mean it’s not important, because it’s important for coaches, athletes, parents, communities, but that’s high school sport. I would like to think that just trying to keep things in the right perspective to move forward can help. For every match that is going to be played, one of two things will happen: someone is going to win. Someone is going to lose.

“Hopefully, we can just keep it all in proper perspective. The match officials are doing their best, and I hope we can add it all together and continue to have a more positive sportsmanship. “

“Although we all wish our teams were successful”, added Dr Bennett, “I think we also now understand the importance of the possibility of just having our children in the field. Our kids are working so hard to prepare for the opportunity to compete. These are our children. I am so grateful to the TSSAA leadership and Mr. Childress for continuing to fight for an opportunity for our student-athletes to compete. I know student-athletes all over the state. Wonderful human beings, and I’m so proud of their resilience and commitment to keep working hard, regardless of the strangers.



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Murfreesboro TN, Sports, Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, TSSAA

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