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New rules for dealing with unruly fans or parents at high school athletic events

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  • Staff Report 

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) executive committee has approved a new spectator sportsmanship regulation to address unruly behavior during high school games. The “three strikes and you’re out” policy will be implemented starting in the Fall of 2023.

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NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas explained that parent behavior has been monitored for several years, and the association believes that if student-athletes and coaches are held to a certain standard, parents should be as well. Instances of parents acting inappropriately during high school competitions are not uncommon.

Starting next fall, the new policy will be enforced as follows: A school administrator will issue a first warning, directing the spectator or group to cease negative comments or actions. The second warning involves a personal discussion, reminding the offender(s) of the consequences of a third strike: removal from the contest.

Upon removal from a game, spectators will have two options: serve a one-game suspension or take a free online course on fan behavior to gain access to the next contest. Zayas sees the course as an opportunity for fans to learn from their mistakes and hopes that it creates a learning environment for them.

In addition to promoting better behavior among spectators, Zayas hopes the policy will encourage more people to become involved in officiating, as New York State sports are currently experiencing a shortage of officials. The new policy aims to foster a more positive atmosphere for everyone involved in high school sports.