Schools starting conduct crackdown

Clovis schools will adopt the “The Pursuing Victory with Honor” program with hopes that the program will help to spread good sportsmanship to coaches, athletes and spectators. (File photo)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

A plastic bottle was hurled across the stands. A coach flipped off a group of screaming fans. Curses are commonplace.

These Clovis game reports, and a nationwide movement to clean up sports conduct, prompted Clovis schools to adopt the “The Pursuing Victory with Honor” program, according to Clovis Schools athletic director Dale Fullerton.

“We need this program to send the right message to the public. We also want our athletes to act right,” Fullerton said.

In August, Fullerton trained more than 70 coaches in good sportsmanship, with hope it would trickle down to athletes and spectators.

Tonight, another piece of the campaign will fall into place.

A vinyl-coated rule of conduct list will be unveiled at the Clovis High School football game. “We ask all fans to refrain from: Intimidating or harassing the players, coaches, officials, or fans; using profanity; throwing objects; entering the playing area; loitering on school grounds,” reads the 8-foot sign that will later be placed in the high school gymnasium.

If someone fails to abide by the rules of conduct, Fullerton said they will be asked to leave the contest by school administrators or law enforcement officials. Violators may also be banned from future athletic events, he said.

“The sign also says, in big, bold letters, ‘Enjoy the event. Be a fan, not a fanatic.’ Most of our kids and our fans are good anyway. But we want to people to realize this is just game. It’s not a life or death situation — it’s a way for our kids to have fun. We have to keep that in perspective,” Fullerton said.

The new sports program is an offshoot of the national “Character Counts!” program, implemented in Clovis Schools almost six years ago, according to Clovis Schools Deputy Superintendent and “Character Counts!” chairperson Ladona Clayton .

Twenty-one individuals from six local entities — the county, the city, the Chamber of Commerce, the Clovis Community College, Cannon Air Force Base, and Clovis Municipal Schools — constitute the “Character Counts!” Task Force.

Clayton said their mission is to improve moral and ethical behavior. At the heart of the movement are six character traits: Trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Clovis elementary school students use crayons and paper to draw the traits. They sign character contracts, pledging to uphold them. Students at Mesa Elementary recite the traits every morning and teachers strive to be unfailing stewards, said Mesa Principal Jan Cox.

It important to extend this attitude to football fields and basketball courts, Clayton said.

“We need to revive once again what it means to demonstrate good sportsmanship. It has been forgotten.”

“Our children and adults see bad sportsmanship at the national level — in sporting leagues, the NBA, the NFL, and on TV. It affects our understanding of what (good sportsmanship) looks like,” Clayton said.