Together, students from both Westside and Wyoming County East high schools created a new Wyoming County Schools Sportsmanship Pledge.
The pledge was one of several ideas to come from the Jan. 29 county Board of Education meeting to determine if sporting events between the two schools would be allowed to continue following an increase in the number and intensity of altercations during the games. The board voted to allow the contests to continue with a renewed effort toward a safer, more positive environment for the students and zero tolerance for any type of aggressive behavior.
“We will ask all students, families, coaches, and fans to recite this pledge before any county rivalry contest,” Deirdre Cline, county schools superintendent, explained.
The pledge reads as follows:
“I pledge . . .
“To take accountability for my actions and words.
“To make sportsmanship and safety the priority.
“To be a role model for those around me, remembering that this sporting event is an extension of the classroom.
“To show respect and tolerance as we represent OUR community.
“Because in the end, from East to West, we are . . . WYOMING COUNTY!”
“The pledge they composed is a perfect display of teamwork and what can be accomplished when people work together with a positive purpose,” Cline noted.
“Wyoming County Schools is proud of our students and the Sportsmanship Pledge they created.
“The ultimate goal is to unite everyone in our service to children and to be at our personal best,” she emphasized.
The two schools were scheduled to play at Westside Feb. 7, but inclement weather forced the game to be rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 25.
Ahead of that first game between the two schools since the Jan. 29 meeting, Cline also put spectators on notice that a zero tolerance policy against aggressive behavior would be strictly enforced.
Through the school system’s countywide communication system, Cline sent out a notice reminding those who planned to attend the game that everyone should be on their best behavior.
“There will be ZERO TOLERANCE for any behavior that incites violence or disregard for the safety or well-being of children or spectators at athletic events,” Cline said in the notice.
“Wyoming County Schools expects language and gestures to model the behaviors that we would expect to see in the children we serve.
“This long-standing and intense rivalry between our two high schools must remain healthy for the children we serve and for the communities at large. Everyone who attends these games must work, solidly, together in this commitment to behave in a way that is best for children – no matter what – now and in the future!”
Other suggestions coming from the students, coaches, players, school personnel, parents, and community leaders attending the Jan. 29 meeting included increased security during the games, the presence of additional school personnel, reducing the number of times the schools play each other, obtaining a waiver from the Secondary School Activities Commission (SSAC) to allow the two teams to sit on opposite sides of the gym during basketball games.
Additionally, the meeting participants wanted those exhibiting aggressive behavior to be banned from all school sporting events for up to one year.
They also suggested closely monitoring, and maybe restricting, the number of tickets sold; then, keeping all additional entries into the buildings locked to restrict those who want to enter without paying.