After some inappropriate spectator behavior at local high school athletic events, as well as other incidents in the area, the Washougal School District is taking action.
A code of conduct agreement has been drafted and will be given to parents of all student athletes at the start of every sports season.
It requires refraining from using profanity, obscene gestures, berating players and coaches, showing excessive displays of anger or frustration, possessing or being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, complaining or arguing about officials’ calls, arguing with coaches, or refusing to obey the instructions of security officers, among others.
Spectators do not have to sign the agreement in order to be held to these standards.
“We have had enough situations come up between this year and last year, as well as situations occurring in Clark County, around the state and nationally involving unsportsmanlike behavior by parents and spectators,” said Aaron Hansen, Washougal High School principal. “We have expectations and standards for our coaches and for our athletes, but we haven’t had any for our parents or guardians until now.”
Currently, the only guideline in place for event spectators is a statement read over the loudspeaker prior to each home game, stating expectations for conduct. The new code of conduct draws from existing Washington Interscholastic Athletics Activities rules, school district policies and procedures, and individual sport expectations and rules.
Hansen, who has coached football and track for several years, said there is an effort being made at all levels to “re-establish the purpose of athletics.”
“There are so many benefits to students participating in athletics,” he said. “We want to support them in that endeavor.”
He added that being clear about spectator expectations and standards will hopefully enhance the experience of student athletes, and encourage more to participate.
“We want our current student athletes and future student athletes to have positive experiences,” Hansen said.
Superintendent Dawn Tarzian added that several parents have contacted the district to express concern over spectator behavior.
“The parents we’ve spoken with (about the agreement) seem really appreciative so far, as well as the coaches,” she said. “We plan to hold all spectators to these standards and have the right to exclude anyone from an event who is not behaving appropriately.”
She added that losing, as well as winning, teaches student athletes important life lessons.
“Our goal is to put our (code of conduct) values at the forefront of the program, and hold everyone accountable,” she said.
In addition to giving families at copy of the rules, the district is also planning a way to display those expectations at home games.
“In a nutshell, we want our student athletes to have a positive experience, free of added pressures that occur because of behavior from spectators,” Hansen said. “We want the Washougal community adults to model the behavior we expect from our students.”