Understanding Your Influence: NFHS Searches for Solutions to Poor Fan Behavior
Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, NFHS Chief Executive Officer
For several years, we have drawn attention to the poor behavior exhibited at high school athletic contests, hoping to bring awareness to the issue and the damage it can cause to education-based athletics.
We have pleaded. We have scolded. We have condemned unfortunate incidents across the country and, as a result, successfully proven that the problem was widespread and needed to be addressed. Now is the time for solutions.
The NFHS will target solutions when it hosts the Behavior in Sports Summit: Understanding Your Influence, August 14-16 in Indianapolis. The Summit will bring together high school leaders for two full days of speakers and panel discussions to offer solutions to behavior issues at high school sporting events.
This Summit is a continuation of the two Official Consortiums the NFHS held the past two years where officials’ groups addressed behavior issues that have caused officials to leave the avocation and keep others from joining.
The Behavior in Sports Summit will include a wider range of roles, bringing together as many groups as possible to offer solutions to behavior issues at high school sporting events – and continue in our quest to retain and recruit contest officials for high school sports.
We hope to involve athletic administrators, state high school association directors and media relations personnel, media members, students and coaches in finding solutions to changing the atmosphere and culture at events.
Three-time Emmy Award winning broadcaster Anne Marie Anderson will serve as the opening keynote speaker, Monday, August 14, when she will share her unique perspective as both a member of the media and a parent. Anderson will highlight how the media can play a role in preserving the positive high school sports experience and its role in the community and in students’ lives.
We also will be discussing the impact of social media – what helps and what hurts – on the climate at high school sporting events. The proliferation of social media platforms has made it easy for people to post messages that they would never say in a face-to-face setting. We want to discover ways to use social media to help and not hurt students, coaches and officials involved in high school sports.
Another anticipated topic will be setting the proper foundation for behavior at high school sporting events by initiating programs at elementary and middle school levels. Parents and others attending events at these levels must understand that individuals officiating games at these levels are mostly volunteers trying to provide a service so that kids have an opportunity to be involved in sports.
In addition to panel discussions, the Summit will feature several breakout sessions involving media, administrators and coaches, with the overarching goal for each group of individuals to understand the influence it can have on behavior at high school sporting events.
Registration for the Behavior in Sports Summit is free and will take place at the Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. We hope you will join us as continue to work together to make high school sports a more positive experience for everyone.
Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her fifth year as chief executive officer of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the first female to head the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS. She previously was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years.