Harsher penalties imposed for fan ejections at WIAA games

Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 6:50 PM CDT
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SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (WMTV) - The WIAA has imposed a harsher penalty for fans who are ejected from high school sporting events.

In the past, if a fan was thrown out, they would miss the remainder of that game. Under the new rule, the ejected fan will also miss the following game or contest.

Data from the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) shows Wisconsin lost more than 1,600 officials over the last two years: They’re attributing that to poor sportsmanship in the stands.

“I think it sends the proper message that this is an issue,” Ken Koester, an official and advocate for NASO in Wisconsin said. “Now maybe, if they’re going to miss that next game, they think twice about it, they don’t do it. We don’t have enough officials right now in any sport and a lot of that, our numbers show is from fan behavior.”

The NASO surveyed more than 28,000 of its members; 60% of those officials say they left their positions because of poor fan behavior.

“I think parents should be held responsible and accountable,” Matt Watkins, parent of a Sun Prairie High School JV baseball player said.

Watkins added that he has seen bad sportsmanship first-hand.

“I remember a basketball game a few years ago, it was pretty evident the ref missed a call, but a parent went out on to the court and that was pretty inexcusable,” Watkins said.

By making a harsher penalty, Koester hopes spectators will think twice before letting their emotions fly.

“This is for the behavior that’s crossing the line, that’s over the top,” Koester said. “That is just not effective in our inter-scholastic athletics and it needs to be addressed.”

The new fan ejection rule goes into effect this fall.

There is a bill in Committee for the Wisconsin Legislature right now that would also make it against state law to harass an official and instill a harsher penalty for those actions.

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