How do we address unsportsmanlike behavior from fans?

The age-old conversation has now re-emerged following the acknowledgment of the referee shortage. An article by the NFHS reported a deficit of more than 33,000 officials in 2022. One of the causes of this shortage is the pandemic, but the other is the starking bad behavior of fans. Over this past year, high school athletic associations have scrambled to address the problem by providing athletic directors with ways to combat unsportsmanlike conduct during the game. And even though a small percentage of fans pose the problem, the risk of losing more referees sets a precedent for action to be taken. Here’s the 101 on preventative measures you can take as the host of any high school sporting event and a clever way to address the issue as part of your pre-game ritual.

A Game Plan for the Fans

We once read that you must first practice consistently to pre-determine the outcome. The more you repeat a thought or action, the higher the chance of altering your neurological pathways. In other words, what you think consistently determines what you do. Athletes exhibit this notion by preparing their minds when performing rituals before a game or practicing drills. This same can be true for your fans.

Fans tend to hold a sense of entitlement and ownership over your team, which makes them emotionally invested. It's what brings them back for each game. But every once in a while, passion mixed with frustration can lead fans to aggressive behavior. One of the best ways to combat this is to approach your fans through a short one-minute video you display during pre-game. Since most of your fans attend more than one game a season, having the video consistently be a part of your school’s sporting events will be a repetitive reminder for fans. Make the video engaging by referring to the announcement as "A Game Plan for the Fans.”

During the announcement, you can address more than unsportsmanlike conduct - you can also announce how to locate security personnel and volunteer staff or remind fans not to smoke on the premises. You can also inform them about what to do in case of bad weather or a need to exit the stadium or arena quickly. Use this video to inform fans of protocols and procedures while addressing unsportsmanlike conduct.

HubSpot Video


ScoreVision is not responsible for any of the statements provided within this script. You must speak with your district or school personnel to decide what protocols you can and should address when making a video.

How to Create Your Very Own Game Plan

If you want to create a video similar to the example above, the first step is to write a script for the proctor to read. We've provided you with a template for the video we put together as an example and a place for you to start your own. After you write the script, you will want to find someone willing to do the voice-over or perhaps be on camera to make the announcement. As mentioned in this article, consider involving your student-athletes in this process. Having them participate will encourage fans to listen and absorb the information.

ShareYourGameDayExperience-Final (1)

Download Resources

Next, we must determine the best use of visuals to  accompany the script you’ve created. Your decision will largely depend on your staff and resources, but we need to note that you do not need to have crazy film equipment or even a camera to draft this video. Using platforms like the Adobe Creative Suites will open the door for a short and straightforward infographic to inform fans of these protocols. 

To make the video more compelling, involve your student-athletes by having them film the announcement. Ask them to address the fans by introducing themselves and then have the player thank them for attending today's game. From there, they can dive into the protocols. Although this seems minor, it is essential to recognize that your fans are in attendance to watch the players. Having a player address fans will capture their attention and make the announcement more effective. We tend to listen to the people we respect and cherish. 

Once you create the video, upload it to the ScoreVision Cloud and assign it to your On-Demand Collection for the game. You can now access the video in the ScoreVision Producer and play the video right before you play the hype clip during pre-game. You've now unlocked an engaging way to address fans on unsportsmanlike conduct and other critical policies in place so fans can enjoy the game.

Unsportsmanlike conduct profoundly impacts the game day experience at your school. We hope these tips and tools give you the power to approach fans in a way that contributes to overall fun and excitement. Remember, what we think of consistently is what we frequently do, so make sure to keep sportsmanship in front of fans’ minds.

BONUS: 📣✨ Share Your Game Day Experience!

You're welcome! 😉 Why not share one more tip before wrapping up this blog? While  addressing your fans and promoting good sportsmanship is important, don’t forget they are also there to have fun. As part of the "game plan,” encouraging fans to interact and share the experience by simply posting a photo on social media using a specific hashtag. Doing so not only boosts morale but will also give your school and athletic program more exposure. We put together a few simple templates you can use to promote the hashtag in addition to sharing the photos on the big screen during halftime. To collect the images, use a system like to collect posts you are tagged in for future use. You can find the templates by clicking the "Download Resources" button shown above.

Share Your Game Day Experience - Half Time

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