New initiative approved

Published 2:27 pm Wednesday, April 23, 2008

By Staff
The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control approved the STAR Sportsmanship Initiative at its annual meeting recently and added it to student eligibility requirements, beginning with the 2008-09 school year.
Students in grades seven through 12 must complete the on-line interactive program and meet all other established requirements in order to be eligible for high school interscholastic athletics.
A certificate of completion must be kept on file in the school principal's office along with other eligibility items, including birth certificate and the physician's statement.
The program, designed by www.learningthroughsports.com and its director Brian Shulman, is designed to promote a higher awareness of the importance of sportsmanship.
Already being used by some member schools, the program has significantly reduced the number of ejections in Alabama according to data provided by Shulman and the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
The Central Board unanimously approved the mandate. All students and cheerleaders must complete the course one time during their high school athletic careers.
Coaches will also be required to complete a coach's component of the Sportsmanship Initiative when it is developed but will have two years in which to complete it.
Parents are encouraged to go on line to complete a component of the initiative designed just for them. An online component for principals was also discussed.
Shulman's group will sponsor a banquet this summer during All-Star Sports Week.
The banquet is being planned in order to honor schools that have no fines or ejections during the 2007-08 school year.
The STAR Sportsmanship Behavioral Mode was also approved by the Central Board.
That program, similar to traffic court, will allow a student or coach who is ejected to complete the special behavioral component.
If the component is completed within 10 days of the ejection the fines would reduce the automatic $300 fine to just $100 for a first offense.
Locally, Gerald McAnally at Brewton Middle School said that the school offered the STAR program to students in grades 5-8 at Brewton Middle School with approximately 75 percent of students successfully completing the program already.