Conduct Confusion

CIML Student Section Guidelines Create Controversy
Conduct Confusion

On November 30th, 2023 the JCSD Activities & Athletics Department sent out an email ahead of Johnston’s first home basketball game, listing off the expected conduct of students at games. The initial feedback from students was outrage regarding its contents believing that these rules were new.

CIML Student Section Expectations
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“I was definitely surprised,” said Josh Kerber ‘24 regarding the student conduct email. “We already got through football and all the fall sports, nothing new happened, and they just kind of dropped it on us right as basketball started,” Kerber said.

Some students, like Kerber, feel some of the rules overstep their boundaries of what they can enforce at games.

“The big rule that got everybody mad is they said you can’t jump on the bleachers and that’s definitely overstepping in my opinion … [I think] that’s crazy to me, I think people will continue to jump on the bleachers and that won’t change,” Kerber said.

Kerber also feels the rules prevent students from capitalizing on home-field advantage and creating a competitive atmosphere in games. 

I feel like a lot of those rules kind of kill sport environments and take away what’s supposed to be there in a home-court advantage.

— Josh Kerber '24

In response to students’ frustrations over the rule regarding jumping in the bleachers, Principal Ryan Woods clarified it is for the upkeep of the student section bleachers. 

“I can tell you that’s not in there due to we believe that it’s disrespectful or mean. That is, in buildings and we’ve had it happen here, the bleachers break … and those bleachers cost 1000s of dollars to repair … we’d rather spend that money on our students versus fixing a broken bleacher,” Woods said.

For students like Kerber, the email sent out was confused for changes to the conduct rules, but Woods has stated “There’s nothing new in it.”

“I think for clarity, they aren’t changes. There’s nothing new. I think they’re just written down. I don’t think the CIML in my time here has ever posted a list … Again, to me, there’s nothing new in it, it’s just we’ve posted it, it needs to be more transparent. So more people notice it, which to me is a good thing,” Woods said.

The idea of creating a list has been a couple of years in the making. The discussions centered around the importance of sportsmanship among CIML schools’ sporting events.

“One of the primary conversations we have when we meet, so the ADs [Athletic Directors] and the CIML meets monthly, the principals meet multiple times a year, [and] sportsmanship is one of the primary topics of every meeting,” Woods said.

The list created by CIML schools allows them to all be on the same page regarding the expected conduct of students and adults at games. With the rules now in writing the hope is that they can create a safe and respectful atmosphere at games.

Student-athletes that are on the floor are treated with respect, no matter if it’s the home team or visiting team, and that the officials who work those games are also treated with respect … I think what we hope to have it be is positive, it’s a good time.

— Ryan Woods

The rules list does have its positives as it helps try to create a safer environment for athletes at games. For athlete Taye Proctor ‘24 he thinks the rules do a good job promoting sportsmanship at games.

“I think a positive would be the games are gonna be more respectful. You’re not gonna get chirped a lot,” Proctor said.

However these same positives coincide with the negatives of trying too hard to create an environment of respect.

“The negatives you know, the fan turnout might get lowered a lot as it has over the years. You know the energy might get lowered a lot too,” Proctor said.

As a former member of the basketball team, Proctor understands the impact that students have on games. With potentially lowered student turnout he feels the list also inhibits them from bringing spirit to games.

I think a big part of the culture and winning is the student section and the fans because they bring a lot of energy … So when you put a lot of rules out that kind of neglects them [students] from coming to the games, that has a big impact.

— Taye Proctor '24

Although the rules were created with good intentions in mind, students like Kerber and Proctor feel they do more harm than good and it prevents students from becoming truly involved in the game by taking away what makes sports special; the competitive spirit rooted in sports.

“I mean, you might hear it [trash talk] here and there. It might hurt your feelings, but honestly, for me that makes the sport fun. You know, it brings a lot of interest and memories to the game … when the fans have energy, you have energy and then it’s just a whole different environment,” Proctor said. 

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