Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wisconsin high school athlete suspended for protesting sportsmanship policy on Twitter

The PC Police have struck again after a Wisconsin high school basketball star was suspended for her tweet protesting some new controversial sports chant guidelines.

Hilbert High School’s April Gehl drew a five-game suspension for posting an image of an email from officials at the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association and writing, “EAT S--- WIAA,” The Post-Crescent reported.

The WIAA had forwarded all athletes an advisory email that noted an increase in hecklers and asked all schools in the state to “take immediate steps to correct this unsporting behavior.”

Gehl, a three-sport star and one of the top scorers for the Wolves’ girls’ basketball team, was informed by Hilbert athletic director Stan Diedrich on Wednesday that she would be suspended for five games during the current season due to the tweet she posted on Twitter early Monday morning.

“Among the chants that have been heard at recent high school sporting events are: ‘You can’t do that,’ ‘Fundamentals,’ ‘Airball,’ ‘There’s a net there,’ ‘Sieve,’ ‘We can’t hear you,’ the ‘Scoreboard’ cheer and ‘Season’s over’ during tournament series,” the WIAA email specified.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Gehl told the Post-Crescent. “I was like, ‘Really? For tweeting my opinion?’ I thought it was ridiculous.”

WIAA director of communications Todd Clark, who had sent the email to all schools last month, said the chants mentioned aren’t expressly banned from Wisconsin high school sports. Rather, he had sent the email as “a guide to help our schools in promoting positive chants,” he said.

“It’s up to the school for how they want to enforce that,” he said.

The fact that some schools are toning down some of the most popular chants in sports has already prompted a national debate. A few months ago, the Florida Gators band was told to cease playing a specific song because it elicited an inappropriate chant from the crowd.

Fox News columnist Todd Starnes called the WIAA’s efforts a move toward the “wussification of Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin’s football stadiums, basketball arenas and wrestling mats have become safe spaces for the perpetually-offended generation,” he wrote. “Vince Lombardi must be rolling over in his grave.”

“How ridiculous,” ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas wrote in a tweet. “The ‘adults’ making these decisions have too much time on their hands, and too little sense.”

Bilas posted this photo:

Travis Wilson of Wisconsin Sports Network allowed he would have approved of only a one- or two-game suspension for Gehl or even a simple rebuke from administrators and an apology by Gehl. But he supports her longer-term suspension, he wrote.

“Because let's be clear: the tweet was inappropriate, and deserved to be addressed,” Wilson wrote.

“Too often in recent years with the rise of social media, student-athletes and students have developed a misplaced idea that they can say whatever they want wherever they want and get away with it.”

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