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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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GHSA reinforces sportsmanship regulations

Ellie Palaian
The GHSA’s policing of unsportsmanlike penalties and fouls rules has been increased starting in the 2023-24 season. In the 2022-23 season, Midtown teams were fined $750, with the goal of having to pay less this season.

The Georgia High School Association has tightened regulations on unsportsmanlike penalties and fouls for the 2023-24 sports season. This includes when they forced two Georgia high school football teams to forfeit their upcoming games after a fight in their games.

Midtown was fined $750 in the 2022-23 season for unsportsmanlike conduct. Midtown Athletic Director Blair Barksdale said GHSA implemented the change in July, and she believes it will be important for Midtown athletics to work on.

“At our district athletic director meeting …GHSA came and spoke to us, and they have increased [regulations],” Barksdale said. “[We need] to make sure to advocate to players and coaches that [regulations] are tightening up, and they’re not going to let things slide that they may have in the past.” 

Head football and boys track coach Delbert Ellerton said that this tightening of the rules is beneficial to school sports in general.

“One of the reasons that they’re becoming more stringent with this is because it is permeating all levels of sports. It’s very important that that message is sent to athletes, because if athletes are unchecked, it creates games that are beyond just teams playing each other,” Ellerton said. “It creates an environment that is not conducive to actually having a sporting activity that should be trying to [determine] which team is going to outperform the other team.”

Midtown’s $750 in fines last year was the highest in years. The Knights football had four disqualified players. Boys basketball had 6 technical fouls, girls basketball had one. Boys lacrosse and soccer each had one disqualified players. Barksdale said these penalties have strong impacts on athletics departments along with teams. 

“You don’t take [fines] into account for your budget at the beginning of the year because you expect not to get them,” Barksdale said. “Luckily, ours haven’t been that high, but they do affect [the athletic department] because you aren’t budgeting for fines.”

Midtown’s boys basketball head coach Isaac Taylor said technical fouls have been a strong point to focus on for the team.

“I think that technical fouls in general control the game in so many different ways,” Taylor said. “Last year, I experienced the most [technical fouls] I’ve experienced in my career. This year we will not have as many. It’s something big not to have [technical fouls] and to watch our character and how we hold ourselves accountable for it.”

Ellerton believes sportsmanship and discipline are key traits that play a role even outside athletics, and that coaches should play a big role in teaching those traits and keeping their players in line.

“Anything that you do in life, you have to be disciplined. These sports are just microcosms of the experiences you are trying to prepare these athletes for when they get into the real world,” Ellerton said. “When the behaviors exhibit themselves, you have to address them. The most important thing is that you can’t let it happen or go unaddressed.”

Similarly, Taylor believes discipline and sportsmanship are key values when it comes to playing high school sports in general and that these should be important to players.

“Keeping your composure in the heat of adversity when it comes to playing a game is very hard, but at the same time, you must keep your composure, so it doesn’t affect the game because when you let it affect the game and control the narrative of the game, it devalues the game itself,” Taylor said. “If you ask any of my players, they hate that I don’t make things fair for them in practice. You’re not going to get every call. Everything is not going to go your way, and that’s just life, but how you react to it and how you let it affect you, that’s what matters.”

Barksdale hopes Midtown can create a culture this year when it comes to sportsmanship across all Midtown sports and try to avoid penalties and fines.

“I hope that we tighten up on it and that we can have expectations across the board as Midtown athletics,” Barksdale said. “We know that athletics is an extension of the classroom, so if you wouldn’t act that way in the classroom, you shouldn’t act that way on the field.”

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About the Contributors
Farris Duwayri
Farris Duwayri, News Associate Managing Editor
Farris Duwayri is a junior and this is his third year on the staff. He enjoys playing Midtown's football team and debate team. He likes cars and hanging out with friends
Ellie Palaian
Ellie Palaian, Sports Managing Editor
Ellie Palaian is a senior and this is her third year on staff for The Southerner. She plays varsity soccer for Midtown High and is excited to write for the paper this year.

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