Learning about sportsmanship and respect

There were extra lessons going on Tuesday at LeRoy High School. They centered around respect and sportsmanship.
The hope here is that a message can be sent to teen-age students everywhere about what is appropriate and what goes over the line when trying to generate enthusiasm for an upcoming game.
Seniors at LeRoy clearly stepped over any boundaries of good taste with a sign that was placed on the side of the high school building Monday, the start of homecoming week.
The top of the banner read:
“Q. Want to hear a good joke?!?”
Beneath it were the words:
“A. Blue Ridge Football”
Blue Ridge is the Panthers’ opponent this Friday. The neighboring districts are separated by 9.4 miles from high school to high school. Blue Ridge is also the school that snapped a 31-game losing streak four days ago.
At a time when the Blue Ridge players should be commended for continuing to put forth the effort required to have success on the field, they were reminded of the frustrating lack of success in the recent past and made fun of in a very public display.
Following complaints from Blue Ridge parents — many of whom saw the banner when they arrived in LeRoy Monday evening for a volleyball match between the schools — the banner was removed Tuesday morning.
LeRoy principal Steve Reschke fielded a call from the IHSA on Tuesday and spent a part of his work day discussing the issue with other callers.
“There was quite a bit of feedback,” he said.
In one email, he issued this statement: “I apologize on behalf of all citizens of LeRoy to all citizens of Farmer City, and especially to all students/teachers/administration of Blue Ridge High School.”
He also said there will be repercussions for those involved, but added, “I’m not at liberty to talk about them.”
The students at LeRoy were participating in a tradition which has occurred for years at the school.
“All of our classes create a banner that is put up on the side of the building the Monday of homecoming,” Reschke said.
This year, one class did not participate, another class had its banner torn by the wind as they attempted to put it in place and, now, the senior banner is gone. That leaves one banner remaining.
It is unclear whether any adults were supervising or otherwise involved in helping the senior students get their banner on the side of the school. When asked, Reschke said, “Ultimately it is my responsibility because it is on the outside of my building.”
Though there is no way to justify the banner, if it serves to illustrate graphically what should not be tolerated, some small piece of good can be drawn from the action.
While it is true that for every team which wins a game, there are an equal amount of teams which lose, there is much, much more that can be learned through athletics than what is revealed on the scoreboard. In my way of thinking, individuals who stick with an activity through enormous challenges and individuals who diligently strive to improve themselves and their teams are the true winners.

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leroyfan1 wrote on September 28, 2010 at 11:09 pm

One important detail you fail to divulge in your article is that the theme for LeRoy's homecoming is Candyland. On the banner there was also a picture of the candy Laffy Taffy. This banner was not meant to offend anyone. It was a light hearted joke. This tradition of class banners has been around for a long time. Every class makes some sort of reference to the team they are playing for homecoming. How is this Laffy Taffy joke any different than saying " Kill the Knights" ? In a previous homecome LeRoy played the Falcons. One banner said RIP Falcons. Why was there not an uproar about that? You are taking this way to far. Why don't we focus on something more important than some high schools homecoming? Lets find a real story about something more newsworthy than this.

charlie wrote on September 29, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I think offense was taken because the BR football team has been a target of jokes for years and they are tired of it!! BR has endured a lot over the past 31 games. Many good players have come and gone without recognition. The BR teams over the past 4 years have lost games but have gained so much integrity in themselves and have went on to become great young men. It takes a lot for these boys to take the field every week. They have to dig deep from the comments made to them, by their fellow students, community members and teachers. Last year there were negative comments about BR football in a flier that was handed out at Soccer Senior night. That incident didn't even get a reprimand from our administration. We were fortunate to break the losing streak last Friday night only to have a letter to the editor in the Pantagraph today, say how unfair the referee's were. Come on can't we have our celebration without someone trying to take our time in the spotlight away?

Mama Knight wrote on September 29, 2010 at 9:09 am

Of course you don't want this kind of publicity, I would be mortified to think that my child doesn't know the difference between cheering his or her team on and publicly ridiculing another team.
As for your point about the theme of the Homecoming this year being "Candyland" I fail to see how that requires the banner to include another team as the punchline of a joke in what most people would consider to be in bad taste.
But, that's LeRoy. They are notorious for being unsportsmanlike. It's been like that for over 30 years. Not something I'd be proud of.

sportsfan1 wrote on September 29, 2010 at 10:09 am

I would find it hard to believe that if the tables were turned, leroyfan1 would feel the same way about this "light hearted joke." If there was a banner that said "Wanna hear a good joke? Leroy football fans!", that would be ok? It would come down in a heartbeat on my watch. Sportsmanship will always be an issue unless those in charge or parents of students pay more attention and give them guidance. The actions they see from others are sometimes perceived as acceptable unless someone steps up and tells them different.

Mama Knight wrote on September 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Apparently even though the principal saw fit to remove the banner from his school, he wasn't concerned enough about it to secure it very well. Since it showed up at Blue Ridge High School this morning. Signed by the whole football team. Classy.

lerooy11 wrote on September 29, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Mama Knight, I'm a student of LHS, and I know my principal secured it as best he could. He has a very busy week during homecoming. The fact that your school's parents who had issues with the banner have been complaining and bringing more attention to yourselves and the issue the banner was about, well it has caused much more work for him now, a banner is the least of his worries to keep track of at this time. I also know the people that had signed it, were the people that made it.

Mama Knight wrote on September 30, 2010 at 8:09 am

If he had paid any attention as to what was being hung on his building to start with none of this would have happened. End of story.
And glad you cleared up the confusion as to who the banner was signed by. I do appreciate that.

megan64 wrote on September 29, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Does anyone remember the banners "Kill the Nights" or "RIP Falcons"? There were no complaints that Leroy students were threatening other teams and those could be taken the wrong way by many people. I've read many banners throughout the years and most of them could offend anyone if they twisted it to their benefit. Most people with any common sense would realize that these banners are just part of the rivalry, not meant to be purposefully harmful to anyone. As for the banner being hung at Blue Ridge, the kids are reacting to the immature behavior and bad example set by the ADULTS, not the students. Before we go blaming the teenagers for all of this why don't we begin with the parents who are the real ones adding fuel to this rivalry.

Mama Knight wrote on September 30, 2010 at 8:09 am

For example the ADULTS who can't understand how this banner crossed the line of sportsmanlike behavior? Those ADULTS? No one has complained about anything like "Joust the Knights" or "RIP the Knights" those kinds of comments are commonplace and do not "poke fun" at a team that has struggled mightily to win or even compete in some instances. These boys have worked very hard and for their team to be referred to as a joke is in poor taste. That is my (and apparently the Principal of LHS's) opinion. Like it or not I'm entitled to it just as you are yours.

BR Sports Fan wrote on September 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm

To Start off I am a graduate of BRHS and played football there. I see nothing wrong with the banner, I see it as a joke. Not more than a week ago we had floats and signs saying negitive things about Heyworth in our town. That is just high school football, the way it should be, kids having fun. That banner could be a great motivating tool for coaches. Furthermore if you do have a problem with it instead of complaining about it get kids in the weightroom and support the program to help make things better...... Go Knights

Mama Knight wrote on September 30, 2010 at 8:09 am

When was the last time you were in the weight room? When you were in high school? Not only have we made many improvements to the weight room I know many boys who are there every night after school and throughout the summer. And believe me we are motivated. For that I thank LeRoy.

amettrick wrote on September 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Maybe it's just me, but I fail to see how this banner was offensive or unsportsmanlike. To me, it sounds like just good, old-fashioned smack talk. People today are so overly sensitive it's laughable. Where is Blue Ridge's sense of humor? Besides that, I've attended a couple of games at Blue Ridge and have heard their students yell far more offensive things than that benign joke. Lighten up and have a little fun guys.