HS Athlete Suspended for Tweet Slamming Rules Banning ‘Scoreboard’ and ‘Airball’ Chants

A Wisconsin high school suspended an athlete who posted a tweet criticizing new WIAA rules banning students from using certain words aimed at opposing teams in chants during games.

April Gehl, a student who plays three sports at Hilbert High School in Hilbert, Wisconsin, learned the hard way just how seriously authorities and school administrators take the new rules banning chants of words such as “airball” and “scoreboard” at school games.

School authorities suspended the student after they saw that she took to her Twitter account to criticize the new rules.

Ghel’s post did contain an expletive as her tweet told the WIAA rules to “eat s**t.” The teen soon took the tweet down but school administrators saw the it anyway, and handed down a five-game suspension for the “unsportsmanlike” language in her posting about unsportsmanlike language.

The 17-year-old student was totally surprised by the harsh five-game suspension after administrators noticed her tweet.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Gehl told USA Today. “I was like, ‘Really? For tweeting my opinion?’ I thought it was ridiculous.”

USA Today columnist Ricardo Arguello says that a five-game suspension is an “over the top” penalty. In fact, as far as Arguello is concerned, students will “pick up on this perceived mishandling” of the situation and that will “make the respect demanded by school officials a bit more difficult to keep intact.”

The teen’s tweet comes on the heels of the announcement of new WIAA rules intended to put an end to chants that might hurt the feelings of players.

The new rules ban chants such as “You can’t do that,” “Fundamentals,” “Air ball,” “There’s a net there,” “Sieve,” “We can’t hear you,” the “scoreboard” cheer, and “season’s over” during game play.

WIAA sent an email to schools late last year informing them of the list of banned words and phrases, warning that violations of the ban would be met with penalties.

The Ghel family reported that they don’t intend to appeal the suspension, but they still feel it is an absurd reaction to their daughter’s tweet.

“Sure, what she said wasn’t the right words and wasn’t the best thing to do,” April’s mother Jill Gehl said. “I wasn’t real upset with her because there have been a lot more worse things said on Facebook and Twitter to specific people. This to me was more of a general response to an organization per se, not an individual. So, sure, I’m upset with it. But we just have to deal with the consequences.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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