MILWAUKEE (AP) — A state lawmaker wants to make the Wisconsin high school athletics association subject to open records and meetings laws after the group drew ridicule for instructing administrators to step in if fans boo or jeer rivals with common chants such as “air ball” or “season’s over.”
Marinette Republican state Rep. John Nygren and Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Executive Director Dave Anderson said they hope to chat face to face Thursday. Nygren said he will discuss a bill he plans to introduce that would open the association to public records and meetings laws.
The organization is a private entity and isn’t currently subject to such rules, but Nygren says the group is funded through public schools and should therefore be open to public scrutiny.
He says his decision to bring the legislation was touched off by guidelines from the association on fan behavior that have been widely panned as overreaching, and he wrote a critical opinion piece that outlined his position. “Anyone paying attention to the news the past couple of weeks has seen the embarrassment that our state has suffered at the hands of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association,” Nygren wrote.
The association emailed a longstanding set of guidelines to athletic directors last month, reminding them to ensure a positive environment at indoor sporting events. It laid out a list of common negative fan chants — including “scoreboard” and “fundamentals” — that should prompt administrators to intervene. The story picked up momentum after a high school basketball player was suspended after reading the email and criticizing the association on Twitter, using an expletive.
Critics on social media and talk radio blasted the guidelines as coddling and unnecessary.
Experts around the country, meanwhile, have said the recommendations generally line up with common practices that call for fans to be positive and encouraging at high school sporting events.
For his part, Nygren said the organization should “let kids be kids. You can’t bubble-wrap people.”
Anderson said he hasn’t had the chance to review the legislation.