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Sportsmanship Resources

Sportsmanship Definition & Fundamentals

Sportsmanship (sports'·man·ship')

Good sportsmanship is viewed by the WIAA in conjunction with the National Federation as a commitment to fair play, ethical behavior and integrity. In perception and practice, sportsmanship is defined as those qualities which are characterized by generosity and genuine concern for others. The ideals of sportsmanship apply equally to all activity disciplines. Individuals, regardless of their role in activities, are expected to be aware of their influence on the behavior of others and model good sportsmanship.

 Fundamentals of Sportsmanship

  1. Show respect for self and others at all times.

  2. Show respect for the officials. Good sportsmanship implies the willingness to accept and abide by the decisions of the officials.

  3. Know, understand and appreciate the rules of the contest. Good sportsmanship suggests the importance of conforming to the spirit as well as the letter of the rules.

  4. Maintain self-control at all times. Prevent the desire to win from overcoming rational behavior.

  5. Recognize and appreciate skill in performance regardless of team affiliation.

Sportsmanship Reveals Character Regardless of the Final Outcome.

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Tournament Series Harassment Policies

WIAA Tournament Harassment Policies & Procedures

On those occasions where racial, ethnic or gender harassment is alleged to have occurred, the WIAA member’s response shall be informed by the following expectations and beliefs:

a. Education-based athletics are an extension of the classroom. If language or behaviors would not be tolerated in the classroom they are equally inappropriate on the field, court, or in the stands.

b. The membership of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association objects to the use of activities, materials, logos, apparel, mascots or gestures that are profane, vulgar, insulting or offensive   to others. The membership disapproves of any form of taunting or expression that is intended or designed to embarrass, ridicule, disrespect or demean others under any circumstances including on the basis of race, religion, gender or national origin.

c. Interscholastic athletics must be maintained on a moral and educational platform. Every student-athlete must be able to compete in a climate of respect, free of threat, free of fear, intimidation and harassment.

Harassment is behavior aimed at a person’s sex, race, religion, creed, age, national origin, ancestry, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, or disability that substantially interferes with a student’s school performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive school environment.Harassment may be verbal, non-verbal or physical acts during athletic competitions.

When contest officials witness an act of harassment it shall be penalized by an immediate ejection of the violator(s). When a contest participant is subjected to harassment and contest officials do not witness the act – the affected participant shall immediately:

a. Report the incident to his or her coach. Athletes should be coached to be as detailed and specific in providing information as they can be.

b. The coach will report the incident to a contest official.(uncharged time out)

c. The official will stop play - and inform the Contest Manager and the opposing coach of the allegation. Play will not be resumed until an offender, if identified, is ejected and removed. If unable to identify the offender, the game will not resume  until event security and supervision is reassigned to the area of concern. Contest managers, along with event security and supervision and contest officials are expected to rigorously enforce this harassment policy and will be especially alert for repetition of the alleged incident.

d. Coaches notified of allegations will immediately counsel all squad members of the allegation and take appropriate steps to prevent any future incident.  

e. Refer to Bylaws – Article X – Game Control on page 27.

Suggested Responsibilities for Developing Sportsmanship

All of us can play an important role in establishing an atmosphere of good sportsmanship, and each member school is encouraged to develop approaches that work best for their community. The following suggestions about how to divide up responsibilities within your school systems are based on the successful experiences of the member schools that serve on the WIAA Sportsmanship Committee. 

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School Board

* Adopt policies that reflect the community’s educational objectives and promote the ideals of good sportsmanship, ethics and integrity.

* Establish standards for athletic participation to reinforce that high school sports activities are a privilege, not a right.

* Remain a policy-making body and allow the administration to interpret and implement your policies. Give support to school officials when difficult disciplinary sportsmanship policies are enforced.

* Attend high school sports activities and be a positive role model for good sportsmanship.

* Support and recognize participants, coaches, school administrators and fans who display good sportsmanship.

* Recognize the value of school activities as a vital part of education.


School Administration

* Develop and direct a program for teaching and promoting the ideals and fundamentals of good sportsmanship within your schools and your conference as well as among your fellow WIAA members.

* Attend sports activities and be a positive role model for good sportsmanship.

* Provide appropriate supervisory personnel for each interscholastic event.

* Support, recognize and encourage good sportsmanship behavior by participants, coaches, teams and fans.Actively discourage and communicate about undesirable conduct.

* Apply sportsmanship expectations uniformly and consistently.


* Set a good example by exemplifying the highest degree of character, behavior and leadership.

* Respect the integrity and judgment of officials--and accept their decisions.

* Display modesty in victory and graciousness in defeat.

* Shake hands with officials and the opposing coaches in public.

* Follow and teach the rules of the game

* Teach student athletes about good sportsmanship.  Acknowledge student-athletes that display good sportsmanship and appropriately address undesirable sportsmanship behavior.

* Respect the integrity and personality of each student-athlete. 



* Know and respect the rules of the game.

* Respect opponents and coaches at all times.

* Respect the integrity and judgment of officials--and accept their decisions.  

* Respect the property and equipment of others.

* Display self-control in all circumstances. Remember, you are representing your team, your school, your family and your community.

* Be modest in victory and gracious in defeat.

* Shake hands and offer appropriate comments of congratulations or compassion to opponents following the contest.



* Support and cheer for your team and enjoy the skill and competition.

* Cheer in a positive way that respects the efforts of all teams and players involved.

* A ticket is a privilege to observe a high school athletic event, not a right to demonstrate undesirable or inappropriate behavior.

* Know and demonstrate the fundamentals of sportsmanship at all times.

* Remind yourself and others that interscholastic athletics are an extension of the traditional classroom and are learning experiences where mistakes are made. Encourage and commend students’ attempts to improve themselves educationally and athletically.

* Be a positive role model through your own actions, remaining positive and supportive in cheers, signs, and interactions with others.

* Know and respect the rules of the game.

* Respect the integrity and judgment of officials--and accept their decisions.

* Show respect during National Anthem and presentation of the flag.

* Respect school property and school authorities.  Remain off the playing/competitive area and never throw anything in the stands or onto the field or floor.

* Respect and support the commitment and efforts of coaches.

* Respect and cooperate with the positive and enthusiastic efforts of cheerleaders.

* Recognize and show appreciation for an outstanding play.

* Participate only in activities and behaviors that are appropriate for school-sponsored events before, during and after games near the site of competitions.


The WIAA in conjunction with the Wisconsin Association of Cheer and Pom Coaches (WACPC) promotes good sportsmanship at all events. Cheerleaders can play an important role in establishing an atmosphere of good sportsmanship.

* Know and respect the rules of the game.

* Establish standards of desirable sportsmanship behavior and perform cheers for spectators that reflect those standards.

* Respect opposing cheerleaders and bands, and use proper discretion in the timing of cheers. Greet opposing cheerleaders and treat them as guests.

* Respect the property and equipment of others.

* Respect the integrity and judgment of contest officials, and work with supervisors to assist in maintaining appropriate fan behavior.

* Encourage support and respect for injured players.

* Lead positive cheers that encourage and motivate your team, and begin positive cheers when undesirable sportsmanship behaviors begin.


Public Address

* Be impartial. Announce the contest with no show of favoritism.

* Use proper language at all times.

* Do not anticipate or second guess calls by officials or criticize officials’ decisions, directly or indirectly.

* Be familiar with the venue so that clear directions can be given in an emergency. Help prevent serious situations from developing by working with event administration to remind spectators about not entering the playing area, not throwing items and travel and weather advisories if appropriate.

* Restrict use of the microphone to those in charge of the event or to those who are invited to address the crowd. The announcer is responsible for whatever is said over the public address system.


School Sportsmanship Campaign Model

The information that follows can help guide your efforts to establish a clear, effective and sustainable sportsmanship program. 

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Goal Setting

Responsible behavior at athletic events by student-athletes, coaches, fans, parents, cheerleaders and others is often the result of clearly stated goals and objectives that have been approved by all levels of school administration and placed into practice.

Define Measurable Goals

What would you like to change, improve and sustain in regards to sportsmanship at your school and during athletic events? Are the differences between good sportsmanship and unsportsmanlike behavior clearly stated and communicated to all?  

School Board Statement

Are the philosophy and goals of your interscholastic athletic activities program adopted by the Board of Education? Is sportsmanship emphasized as part of your educational activities?

Athletic Policy Manual

Is sportsmanship emphasized in the coaching manual and materials distributed to your student-athletes and parents? 

Administrative Support

Do your district administrator, principal and athletic director support and emphasize common sportsmanship goals?  


 Do staff, school and league meetings emphasize the importance of educationally sound athletic experiences?


Are desirable behaviors articulated and reinforced through your game programs, flyers, tickets, preseason meetings, assemblies, contests, parent meetings and announcements?


How will you measure success in achieving your sportsmanship goals?


Are positive behaviors acknowledged?

Contingency Plan

Does your district have a contingency plan to respond to critical situations at athletic events such as medical emergencies, extreme weather, fire and violence. 

Ideas to Consider for Improving Sportsmanship

1. Develop a Code of Sportsmanship approved by all levels of your administration and print a copy of it in event programs, on signs, banners and posters.

2. Review the Code of Sportsmanship with the student body, coaches, teams, cheerleaders and band members.

3. Begin a Sportsmanship column in your school newspaper and a social media campaign that identifies and recognizes groups and/or individuals who demonstrate good sportsmanship.

4. Send a letter to the visiting teams’ principal, athletic director, coach and cheerleading squad welcoming them to your school.

5. Prepare and give to adult fans a sheet stating the following: “The (Name of your school) High School student body invites our adult fans to join us in demonstrating good sportsmanship.”

6. Post “Welcome” signs in each team’s locker room.

7. Have the P.A. announcer welcome guests.

8. Organize a sportsmanship committee to create and enhance positive relationships among the schools and communities involved in an athletic event.

9. Use pre-game announcements to help promote good sportsmanship throughout the contest.

10. Use social media to promote good sportsmanship throughout the year.

Suggested Timetable for Implementing a Sportsmanship Campaign


* Distribute information with a sportsmanship focus to various publics

* Discuss the value of sportsmanship with fall coaches and athletes

* Create a committee made up of school administrators, coaches, student-athletes, parents, etc., to discuss and monitor the sportsmanship efforts in your school

* Sponsor an evening assembly for fans of fall sports teams, using school team members, coaches and local officials to emphasize rule interpretations and changes for the coming season

* Talk with your crowd control event staff and public address announcers about how they can support good sportsmanship during events

* Launch a year-round program that invites administrators, coaches, athletes, students and non-school spectators to sign a pledge-card stating they will work to promote good sportsmanship


* Develop and distribute social media content to promote your sportsmanship campaign

* Create and distribute brochures and display posters promoting the sportsmanship campaign

* Send news release to local media announcing your school’s commitment to demonstrating sportsmanship at high school athletic events

* Address the value of good sportsmanship in homerooms at school

* Use sportsmanship themes and graphics in printed materials produced at school

* Send fall public service announcements to local radio stations

* Discuss the possibility of attending the WIAA Sportsmanship Summit each even year or conducting a league/conference meeting each year, addressing sportsmanship and rating the sportsmanship at each school


* Plan a creative competition between student organizations that showcases sportsmanship themes (poster contest, slogan contest, etc.) on social media

* Discuss sportsmanship, ethics and integrity as topics in the classroom with selected instructors

* Emphasize good sportsmanship in school announcements as fall tournaments approach

* Plan an activity around National Sportsmanship Day during High School Activities Week

* Conduct a league/conference meeting on sportsmanship, addressing immediate concerns and plans for remainder of school year


* If teams advance to the State Tournament, identify winning the WIAA/Rural Mutual Sportsmanship Award as a priority

* Discuss the value of sportsmanship with winter coaches and athletes

* Develop an editorial for the school newsletter and a Letter to the Editor for your local newspaper addressing positive sportsmanship efforts

* Sponsor an evening assembly for fans of winter sports teams. Ask school team members, coaches and local officials to emphasize sportsmanship and explain rule interpretations and changes for the coming season


* Send out winter public service announcement to local radio stations

* Compile league/conference sportsmanship ratings for fall sports


* If teams advance to the State Tournament, identify winning the WIAA Sportsmanship Award as a priority.

* Contact an editorial writer at a local newspaper or host of a local radio or television talk show about an editorial or special program on sportsmanship in society and your school’s role in promoting it

* Emphasize good sportsmanship in school announcements and social media as winter tournaments approach

* Develop a school-wide essay or cartoon contest for students to have them communicate their thoughts on sportsmanship


* Discuss value of sportsmanship with spring coaches and athletes

* Sponsor an evening assembly for fans of spring sports teams. Ask school team members, coaches and local officials to emphasize sportsmanship and explain rule interpretations and changes for the coming season


* Send out spring public service announcement to local radio stations

* Compile league/conference sportsmanship ratings for winter sports

* Evaluate, recognize and reward those who participated in sportsmanship efforts


* Evaluate your sportsmanship efforts and report your results to the community through letters, newsletters and social media that reach into homes

* Emphasize good sportsmanship in school announcements as spring tournaments approach

* Conduct a follow-up league/conference sportsmanship meeting to evaluate efforts made during the past year and to set goals for the coming year


* If teams advance to the State Tournament, identify winning the WIAA Sportsmanship Award as a priority

* Compile league/conference sportsmanship ratings for spring sports

* Begin planning your sportsmanship program for the next school year

Additional Resource Materials

NFHS Resources

Courses & Materials

"Sportsmanship. It's Up To You" Program Kit - $19.95

"Sportsmanship" NFHS Learn Course - FREE

"Positive Sports Parenting" NFHS Learn Course - FREE

Teaching and Modeling Behavior" NFHS Learn Course - FREE

"Appropriate Social Media for Athletics" NFHS Learn Course - FREE


WIAA/Rural Mutual Insurance Sportsmanship Award

An important part of our emphasis on sportsmanship is the WIAA/Rural Insurance State Tournament Sportsmanship Award program. At each of the WIAA State Team Tournaments, one school and community is selected to receive the Rural Insurance State Sportsmanship Award, with honorable mention recognition also given to schools who are under consideration for the overall award.  State events where the award is given include football, soccer, team tennis, volleyball, girls & boys basketball, gymnastics, hockey, team wrestling, baseball & softball.

The selection process for the State Tournament Sportsmanship Awards includes input from contest officials, tournament management, police and security personnel, crowd control and ushers, and WIAA Staff members. These observers judge the conduct and sportsmanship of coaches and athletes, cheer and support groups, mascots, bands, student groups and adult spectators. Also measured is the effort by school administrators and chaperones during the tournament to keep the support for their teams and student-athletes positive and enthusiastic.

We also may solicit input from hotels, restaurants and business people in the city where WIAA State events take place in order to make appropriate measurements. relative to the sportsmanship of communities and teams as they attend State Tournament competition. Sportsmanship by coaches and fans at regional and sectional contests prior to the State Tournament may also be taken into consideration.

The WIAA considers the Rural Insurance State Tournament Sportsmanship Award a prestigious honor. It’s truly a community award and one that grows in stature and importance as the years pass.  The key to good sportsmanship at WIAA State events is preparation. Just as the athletes and coaches prepare for their competition, school administrators can lay the groundwork with fans and students prior to their State Tournament appearance in announcements and at pep rallies, parents meetings, booster club gatherings, etc.  

Taking part in a WIAA State Tournament is a unique and memorable experience. When fans and participants emphasize good sportsmanship, we enhance that experience for everyone involved.


Sportsmanship Award Criteria

Sportsmanship Award Evaluation Form

Award Recipient History

Sportsmanship Summit

WIAA 2023 Sportsmanship Summit to be Held in December


The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Sportsmanship Summit. The WIAA, in cooperation with Rural Mutual Insurance Company, will conduct the Summit Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023, at the Holiday Inn & Convention Center in Stevens Point, Wis.

Registration was open to all member schools beginning Oct. 1. Each registered school team will consist of five members that can include students, coaches, administrators, booster clubs or members of the community. The deadline to register a team for the Summit was Wednesday, Nov. 15. Registrations will be processed in the order they are received. Schools that registered  more than one team will be contact to verify if multiple teams are able to attend the Summit.

The Summit is scheduled to begin with check-in at 8:15 a.m. with the first session starting at 8:55 a.m. The cost of the event is $150 per team, which includes Summit materials, a commemorative t-shirt and lunch.

The purpose of the Summit is to assist membership schools with their citizenship and sportsmanship efforts for students, student-athletes, adult fans, advisors, parents and booster clubs; developing plans to improve or maintain good sportsmanship locally; and assisting schools identify and implement a respectful environment for education-based athletics.

The Summit will feature a morning keynote address, an afternoon workshop and three time slots for four different break-out sessions, which focus on the ideals of sportsmanship/citizenship.

The keynote address will be presented by Craig Hillier, author of “Playing Beyond the Scoreboard.” The afternoon workshop will be moderated by Brian Yerkey, principal at New London and member of the WIAA Sportsmanship Committee.  

Participants will also attend three morning break-out sessions. The subjects for the four, 30-minute break-out presentations available during the three time slots are “Supporting and Instilling Exceptional Sportsmanship” by Bill Gosse, author of  SCORE - A Guide to Supporting and Instilling Exception Sportsmanship;” “Coach & Participant Roles in Sportsmanship” by Mark Horbinski of WON80 and former member of the WIAA Sportsmanship Committee; “Sportsmanship: The Official’s Prospective” moderated by Dennis Kaczor, superintendent at Rosholt High School and member of the WIAA Sportsmanship Committee;  “Super Fan Groups” by Waukesha West High School Athletic Director Kyle LeMieux and students; and “Sportsmanship Roundtable Discussions” moderated by Tyson Tlachac, athletic director at Racine St. Catherine’s High School and Cody Schultz, athletic director at Wayland Academy High School.

The link to the online registration form is on the Sportsmanship Summit page of the WIAA website at

Schools interested in registering for the 2023 Sportsmanship Summit should complete the online registration form by Wednesday, Nov. 15. Please contact the WIAA with any questions regarding the Summit by calling (715) 344-8580, or by emailing to

Schools wishing to reserve hotel rooms the night prior to the Summit should contact the Holiday Inn in Stevens Point directly at (715) 344-0200. The room rate for the Summit is $109 for a single or double.

2023 Sportsmanship Summit Schedule

8:15 a.m.-8:55 a.m. - Check-in
8:55-9:50 a.m. - Welcome (Stephanie Hauser) & Keynote Introduction
    Keynote Speaker - Craig Hillier
10-10:30 a.m. - First Break-Out Session
    Ballroom - Bill Gosse, Author of SCORE (two groups)
    Woodland/Trillium - Passing the Baton - Letting Students Lead (Mark Horbinski)
    Stonefield/Harvest - Officials Perspective Forum (Dennis Kaczor)
    Evergreen/Frontier - Sportsmanship Roundtable (Cody Schultz & Tyson Tlachac)
    Sands/Spruce - Waukesha West Superfan Group (Kyle LeMieux)
10:40-11:10 a.m. - Second Break-Out Session
    Ballroom - Bill Gosse, Author of SCORE (two groups)
    Woodland/Trillium - Passing the Baton - Letting Students Lead (Mark Horbinski)
    Evergreen/Frontier - Sportsmanship Roundtable (Cody Schultz & Tyson Tlachac)
    Sands/Spruce - Waukesha West Superfan Group (Kyle LeMieux)
11:20-11:50 a.m. - Third Break-Out Session
    Ballroom - Bill Gosse, Author of SCORE (Two groups)
    Woodland/Trillium - Passing the Baton - Letting Students Lead (Mark Horbinski)
    Stonefield/Harvest - Officials Perspective Forum (Dennis Kaczor)
    Evergreen/Frontier - Sportsmanship Roundtable (Cody Schultz & Tyson Tlachac)
    Sands/Spruce - Waukesha West Superfan Group (Kyle LeMieux)
11:50 a.m. -12:40 p.m. - Lunch (Expo Center)
12:40 p.m. -  WIAA Board of Control President Comments (Paul Pedersen)
12:45 p.m. - Rural Mutual Insurance Comments
12:50 p.m. - 1:20 p.m. - Summit Action Plan Workshop (Brian Yerkey)
1:20 p.m. - Close (Stephanie Hauser)