Students and parents upset by ‘stay seated’ policy

Clovis High School students cheer at the Clovis-Hobbs boys basketball game in January at Rock Staubus Gymnasium in Clovis. (CNJ file photo)

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

Clovis school officials may be cracking down on crowd behavior at sporting events, but some students won’t take it sitting down.

More than two dozen members of the CHS student section left Tuesday’s Clovis-Carlsbad basketball game when school officials told them they had to stay seated if they wanted to watch.

School officials said they were concerned about profane and inappropriate language from the student section. Asking students to stay seated during the game was an effort at crowd control, they said.

But while several adult fans said the motive to remove unruly students is commendable, they felt the action taken was extreme and believe officials should just remove offenders.

“If there’s profanity, the way to get that out it is to take those profane students out,” said Sandy Howard, who’s been attending Clovis basketball games for 28 years. “By making everybody sit, I would equate that with the Clovis police saying, ‘We gave 10 people a ticket, so we’re giving everybody at ticket.’

“What they did was like throwing a wet blanket on the last home game of the season, instead of it being an exciting game.”

Clovis beat Carlsbad, 77-57.

Clovis High School Principal Jody Balch said students were told they could stand and cheer, just not for the whole game or in a derisive manner. Students said they thought they were told they couldn’t stand at all.

CHS senior Paul Moreland, one of the students who left the game, said one or two students are usually responsible for profanity at the games, and those students are usually reprimanded by other students.

He said sometimes student fans will get after an opposing team’s star player, sometimes chanting the name of a celebrity he or she looks like.

“It’s never anything inappropriate with profanity or anything like that,” Moreland said. “Everything that we (the majority of student fans) do is in the lines of being appropriate.”
Balch does not agree.

While one or two students may start inappropriate chanting in the student section, he said multiple students tend to join in.

“It’s tough to pinpoint them,” Balch said of instigators. “We probably know that most of the kids are innocent, but a small group usually gets them involved eventually. … If the others didn’t chime in, we wouldn’t hear it.”

Balch said it’s time students realize taunting and profanity will not be tolerated.

“I don’t think our students are as belligerent as other fans, but I don’t see any place for the belligerence,” Balch said. “The sixth man’s great if it’s to support our team. It’s not great if it’s to belittle players or the other team.”

Balch said a recent incident in Hobbs involving Clovis students wearing raunchy T-shirts directed at Hobbs fans and players was one example of students going too far.

Moreland said Balch made an announcement during school hours that the behavior at the Hobbs game was inappropriate and would not be tolerated in the future.

Balch also said a well-documented brawl involving fans at a Bernalillo-Grants basketball game this year has put a spotlight on crowd control at high school sporting events.

“We’re certainly not immune from having an incident like that,” Balch said. “We’re trying not to be reactive; we’re trying to be proactive.”