Oct. 27, 2018 — Over the last two years, the number of individuals available to officiate high school athletic competitions for the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) has been steadily declining.
The top reason?
A lack of decorum, mostly on the part of spectators, that officials say has been on the rise. This prompted the OSAA to introduce a two-pronged approach to address the issue, beginning with more specific guidelines for acceptable spectator behavior beginning in 2017. Then, last spring, the OSAA began providing officials with an opportunity to recognize teams that exhibit exceptional sportsmanship.
Last week, the Siuslaw volleyball team received word from OSAA Sportsmanship Committee member Kelly Foster that it had been nominated for its show of sportsmanship.
“I am writing to congratulate you on your recent sportsmanship nomination,” Foster said in an email to Siuslaw High School Athletic Director Chris Johnson. “In a recent contest, your program [volleyball] exhibited great qualities that the OSAA looks for in teams, programs and communities across the state — and your game official noticed!”
Foster went on to explain that the Sportsmanship Award is a recognition program that gives officials the opportunity to highlight the positive sportsmanship they see on the court as a way to encourage schools to make visiting teams, coaches, spirit squads and officials feel like welcome, valued guests.
“I think it’s great that the student athletes representing us are making a positive impression on officials and also being an example of sportsmanship for everyone,” said Johnson.
When informed of the nomination, Siuslaw volleyball coach Jon Hornung said he was particularly pleased because it underscored a goal that the team had coming into the season.
“We knew that starting a new league was going to be tough because the level of competition was going to increase greatly,” he said. “We also saw it as a chance to remake our image and raise the level of respect we had for officials and the other teams in our league.”
Hornung said he and his team had some “less than pleasant” experiences last season with officials and other schools.
“We really wanted to change that this year,” said Hornung. “We set expectations high in the beginning of the season about how we treated officials and other teams, and the girls stepped up in a big way.”
The impact of that attitude had almost immediate results, according to Hornung.
“Stepping into a gym this year and having officials smile and wave when they saw us was a huge improvement from years past,” he said. “We hope it can help improve the climate surrounding officials.
“Because without them, it would be tough to have a season.”
The final announcement of the Sportsmanship Award winner will be released at the end of the high school sports season in June.