Three Steps to Reducing Intolerant Cheers

Michael Josephson, founder of the Character Counts Coalition, offers steps to reduce or eliminate negative cheers.

Michael Josephson, founder of the Character Counts Coalition, offers these steps to reduce or eliminate negative cheers:

Step 1: Define standards for what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Aim for the honor involved in sports, Josephson said. "Sports are important to those who play. It's insulting when people demean it."

Step 2: Communicate those standards. Josephson urges using written codes of conduct and including them in printed programs, having fans sign pledges and/or posting them prominently.

Step 3: Have a mechanism to enforce those standards. "In some high schools, it's enough to have a vice principal ... touring the stands and kicking people out," Josephson said. "If there's a level of violence, if you have drunken [or] unruly fans ... you may need police or private security."

Using these steps, it will get better, Josephson said. "How much better will depend on leadership, courage (and) the demands of parents and the community."

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