Ram sportsmanship below average

Greene County School superintendent Tim Christensen opened a school board work session on sportsmanship in a generic way. “Sportsmanship is something every community can work on,” he said as he introduced Todd Tharpe, assistant director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association. Christensen had invited Tharpe to speak.

Many people in attendance sensed, though, that sportsmanship is something the Ram community particularly needs to work on. Tharpe verified that at the end of his presentation.

After a 45-minute PowerPoint® presentation of Sportsmanship 101, Tharpe shared the Association’s sportsmanship ratings from the 2018 football season. He explained that game officials are asked to rank coaches, athletes, student spectators and adult spectators on a scale of 1-4, with 1 being “excellent,” 2 being “acceptable,” 3 being “needs improvement,” and 4 being “unacceptable.” Low numbers are good.

Greene County’s sportsmanship ratings were below average in all four categories for the football season, with athletes and coaches being further from the mark.

The state average for football players was 1.39. The average for Class 2A was 1.39; the average rating for Ram players was 2.16. The state average for coaches was 1.45. The average in 2A was 1.42, and the average rating for the Ram coaching staff was 2.02.
Student spectators across the state and in Class 2A rated 1.25; Ram student fans rated 1.42. Adult spectators statewide rated 1.41. The rating in 2A was 1.38, while the rating of Ram fans was 1.49.

Ratings are also available for the early portion of the basketball and wrestling seasons.

The Ram basketball coaches – led by boys coach Chris Nelson and girls coach Tyler Westhoff – were the only group to display better than average sportsmanship. They were rated at 1.2, with the 2A average being 1.37 and the state average 1.33. Athletes’ rating was 1.8, compared to 1.33 for 2A basketball players and a 1.32 state average. Student fans displayed better sportsmanship than adults, earning a 1.3 rating, a shade above the state average, while the adults were given a 1.7 rating. The state average for adult spectators was 1.49.

Wrestling spectators earned the best Ram spectator ratings. Students were at 1.15, with 1.21 as the 2A rating and 1.18 as the state average. Adults were also rated at 1.15, with 2A adults at 1.23 and the state average at 1.21.

Perhaps most discouraging to those at the work session was Tharpe’s comments as a spectator at Ram basketball. His son in on the Gilbert team and he was at the Dec. 5 game in Jefferson. The Tigers won, 95-59.

“I’ll admit, I was a little embarrassed for you that night. I felt bad about things and how they occurred,” Tharpe said. “I’m not blaming anybody, but I was cringing. I just saw one incident, but it goes back to first impression. Right or wrong, that’s the taste I have. You don’t want that. Your community doesn’t want that.” (One of his slides used the adage “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”)

Tharpe didn’t say specifically what he was referring to. The Rams were playing without senior leader Trey Hinote. They led 17-16 after one quarter but were behind 48-33 at halftime. Senior Lance Hughes fouled out in the third quarter and junior John Rosado both fouled out in the fourth.

“It’s not just an administration thing. It’s not just a coaching thing. It’s not just a student thing. It’s all these stakeholders involved,” he said and sportsmanship.

Tharpe made two suggestions. First, he suggested that mandatory parent meetings be held at the start of every season to outline expectations. Second, he suggested that an announcement about sportsmanship be made over the public address system at the start of every competition, preferably read by a student athlete.

Superintendent Christensen had “invited” coaches to attend, and many did. Activities director and 2018 head football coach Mitch Moore was not there.

Moore last week announced his resignation from the coaching staff to take a position coaching football at a Des Moines high school. His resignation was accepted by the board as part of the consent agenda. He has not resigned his position as activities director.

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