"Two, four, six, eight, who do we no longer hate? The other team! The other team! Yaaaaaay!"
Expect to hear more cheers like that in Wisconsin, where the Interscholastic Athletic Association recently reminded its members of the rules for cheering. Specifically: Taunting the other team is never allowed.
While most of us appreciate good sportsmanship, this edict seems to ignore a basic tenet of competitive sports, which is that for one side to win, the other side has to, um, not win.
Fearful of the dire consequences of that shattering fact—or at least fearful of the dire consequences of saying it out loud—the association recently told schools to forbid all kinds of perfectly appropriate conduct at games:
"Not wanting to restrict creativity or enjoyment, an enthusiastic and boisterous display of support for a school's team is welcomed and encouraged at interscholastic events when directed in a positive manner. However, any action directed at opposing teams or their spectators with the intent to taunt, disrespect, distract or entice an unsporting behavior in a response is not acceptable sportsmanship. Student groups, school administrators and event managers should take immediate steps to correct this unsporting behavior."
Like… tackle the cheerleaders? Gag the fans?
The association seems to want to make the stadium yet another safe space, where never is heard a discouraging word. This might sound kind, but it's really an insult. The WIAA is suggesting that today's kids can't handle anything less than, "Good job, buddy!"
So, Sha na na na. Sha na na na. Hey, hey, good job! Welcome to the glorious new era of school sports, where kids may still be allowed to bounce the ball, but we don't trust them to bounce back.