When MHSAA staff asked our Student Advisory Council, “How do we have a sportsmanship program that isn’t boring?,” the answer that emerged was the MHSAA’s Battle of the Fans.
On Feb. 21 we announced the winner of the 3rd Battle of the Fans - Beaverton High School (see related story). But all five finalists, and dozens of applicants, demonstrated that attendance at high school sporting events can become THE thing to do, and it can be done with both great spirit and high standards of sportsmanship.
On Feb. 16 the Student Advisory Council reviewed the finalists’ videos and the reports of site visits by SAC members and MHSAA staff; and I listened to the discussion. Here’s what I discovered they were looking for . . .
- Authenticity and consistency – not just a one-night thing; but spirited, sportsmanlike support all season long, for multiple sports.
- Not only the absence of poor behaviors, but great originality in demonstrating good behaviors.
- Inclusiveness – conducted in ways that invite all kinds of students to be involved, encourage middle school students to learn good sportsmanship and is welcoming to adults as well.
- Change. Which school and community was most changed since getting involved with the BOTF this year or over the past two or three years?
I have said often that we want the BOTF to be great fun. But it’s also intended to make a great positive difference in school sports in Michigan. And it is. Crowds are both much larger and much better behaved where the BOTF has become important. And the positive change in one school/community is helping to change neighboring districts and entire leagues.