Saturday, Feb. 1, marked the start of the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) post-season tournament schedule. Dance and One-Act Play opened the winter tournament season.
Every Saturday for the next five weeks there will be another section tournament that gets under way or is already in progress. It is a very exciting time of year for participants and fans as many teams hope to make a move in the section tournament and possibly advance to state.
As we get into post-season play, I thought it might be a good time to review some basic guidelines for fan behavior at MSHSL events.
MSHSL minimal behavior expectations for regular and post-season tournament competitions:
• Respect the American flag and the national anthem.
• Spectators must wear clothing that covers the entire torso. Clothing that is vulgar, obscene or that in some other way inappropriate will not be permitted.
• The use of appropriate language is expected at all times. Profanity, negative chants, booing, trash talk, name-calling, personal attacks or other acts of disrespect are unacceptable.
• Respect the game/contest. Under no condition shall anyone other than the members of the official squad enter the playing surface.
• No one may interfere with the contest in any way.
• Handheld signs, which do not obstruct the view of others, will be permitted provided they are in good taste. Signs, message boards, whiteboards or other similar deemed to be in poor taste will be removed. Signs on sticks, balloons or any other type of artificial, celebratory items are not permitted.
• Artificial noisemakers (i.e. megaphones, cowbells, sirens, whistles, thunder sticks and other similar items) are not allowed.
• Laser lights are strictly prohibited.
Most people who read these expectations would agree they make sense. First and foremost, the goal is to provide a safe environment for our athletes and fans. After that, the recurring theme is one of respect — the flag, the players, the officials, the game and each other.
The average fan is pretty good at identifying inappropriate behavior at games. I’m guessing you have been involved in a conversation that started something like this, “Did you see what that guy did?” or “Did you hear what that guy said to the refs?”
I hope when you leave an event you are talking about a great play, a great individual performance or what a good crowd it was and that your conversation is not about “that guy.”
Athletes are going to make mistakes, officials are going to miss calls; it is part of the game. As fans, we have no control over the actions of the players or the decisions of the officials, but we can control our reaction to them.
As we get ready for post-season play, please keep the previously mentioned expectations in mind and, “Let the players play, let the coaches coach, let the officials officiate and LET THE FANS BE POSITIVE!”
See you at the games.