May 15, 2019—PRESS RELEASE
UHSAA Boards Release Policy Statement on Sportsmanship and Fan Behavior
MIDVALE, Utah (May 15, 2019) – The Utah High School Activities Association Board-of-Trustees has approved language strongly condemning unsportsmanlike behavior such as taunting and harassment.
In a recent Board-of-Trustees meeting, the Association’s governing board approved language for the UHSAA Handbook that strongly condemns taunting and harassment on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, creed or national origin. The approved policies and procedures will be included in the UHSAA Handbook.
The language that is approved for inclusion in the UHSAA Handbook reads:
“a. General Statement of Policy
- The Utah High School Activities Association believes that all individuals should be treated with respect and dignity. Students should be able to participate in UHSAA-sponsored activities in an environment that is free from racial slurs, racial harassment, and racial discrimination. Furthermore, the UHSAA disapproves of any form of taunting which is intended to embarrass, ridicule or demean others under any circumstances including on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, creed, or national origin. It shall be a violation of this policy for a participant in UHSAA activities to engage in racial harassment, racial violence, or taunting. For the purpose of this policy, the UHSAA considers participants to include student-athletes, coaches, parents, and fans.
- Racial Harassment: Racial Harassment consists of conduct relating to an individual’s race when the conduct:
- Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment
- Has the purpose or effect of emotionally or unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance
- Racial Violence: Racial violence is a physical act of aggression or assault upon another because of, or in a manner reasonable related to race.
- Taunting: Taunting includes any actions or comments by coaches, players or spectators which are intended to bait, anger, embarrass, ridicule or demean others.
- While each participant in UHSAA activities is responsible for playing a role in creating a safe, educational experience, the UHSAA believes as a matter of policy that school principals and administrators are ultimately responsible for the conduct of groups associated with their school community during the regular season and postseason. It shall be the responsibility of each member school principal to exercise control over all individuals to the extent necessary to ensure safety and fair play for all participations and adherence with these standards."
UHSAA Executive Director Rob Cuff said the new policies concretely state long-held philosophies of UHSAA membership on the topics of sportsmanship and fan behavior.
“A role of our staff and member school administrators is to expect high levels of sportsmanship and fan behavior by enforcing standards of excellence within all of our activities at all times,” he said. “We can accomplish this together by creating positive learning laboratories which enhance the educational experience for high school students. We must rededicate ourselves to the traditional values and purposes of education-based activities as part of the total educational framework. It is through the implementation and enforcement of these policies and procedures at the local level in each member school that matters most.”
In addition to the policy changes, the UHSAA has established a new Diversity-and-Inclusion committee that consists of UHSAA board members, Association constituents and staff members. The committee will provide guidance to UHSAA member schools on educational initiatives to improve diversity-and-inclusion in their school and local community. The UHSAA Sportsmanship Committee will also continue on-going work to update the Association’s Sportsmanship Handbook and Officials’ Handbook to better reflect current best practices.
Cuff said the UHSAA membership is committed to providing a safe and educational environment for student-athletes.
“The UHSAA is committed to stressing educational and cultural values, promoting life skills and lessons involved in competitive activities and fostering sportsmanship and citizenship,” he said. “By working together with our member schools, we can continue to provide quality opportunities for our student athletes in an environment that is safe and welcoming to all those who participate and attend UHSAA activities.”
About the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA)
The UHSAA is the leadership organization for high school athletic and fine arts activities in Utah. Since 1927, the UHSAA has led the development of education-based interscholastic athletic and fine arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The belief is these activities are an essential part of the high school experience and go a long way to improving academic performance and producing better citizens.
The UHSAA reaches 156 member schools and nearly 100,000 participants in high school activity programs. The UHSAA is governed by a 15 member Board of Trustees made up of elected school board members, superintendents and principals representing school districts and areas throughout Utah, a charter school representative, a private school representative and a state board of education representative.
The organization is committed to stressing educational and cultural values, improving the participation experience in activities, promoting life skills and lessons involved in competitive activities, fostering sportsmanship and mutual respect and assisting those who oversee high school sports and activities in UHSAA member high schools. For more information, visit the UHSAA website at www.uhsaa.org.