Unsporting behavior in basketball games is a very unfortunate situation. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations case book, these can involve relationships between opponents, players and officials, spectators and officials, players and spectators, coaches and spectators, coaches and players and coaches and officials.
The easiest forms of unsporting behavior to identify are “trash talking” or profanity, neither of which will be permitted if the offenders can be identified.
When coaches or players are guilty of unsporting activities, technical fouls are warranted. This happens occasionally and when it does, it is a shame, literally, when a person gets out of control in the heat of at athletic contest. And when the penalty is assessed, it is an awkward moment.
The rule book authorizes officials to penalize spectators, also, for unsporting acts. It states that officials “may call technical fouls on either team if its supporters act in such a way as to interfere with the proper conduct of the game.”
The word “may” is significant because it does not mean “must” or “shall.” In fact, officials are instructed to use extreme caution and discretion with such calls for two reasons.
First, calling a technical on the team may make the angry spectator even angrier and more likely to voice or show displeasure toward the officials.
Secondly, how can an official be sure those spectators are really fans of that particular team?
A crafty and deceptive fan might act like he’s a fan of the other team, just to get an advantage for his own team. The official might penalize the wrong team.
Therefore, you will probably never see a technical called on a team because of the bad behavior of fans.
The ultimate responsibility for the behavior of spectators is that of those in charge of “game management.”
These are generally the athletic director, the principal or the home head coach.
They have the responsibility to provide a site where the game can proceed in a sporting manner, which includes controlling the actions of the spectators.
Officials have the authority to instruct game management to have spectators removed from the site if they have knowledge that they are interrupting or interfering with the administration of the game; inciting the crowd; using offensive language; personally attacking players, coaches, or officials verbally; throwing debris on the floor; or becoming hostile to a point where violence may occur.
If an official is not sure which spectators are guilty, a public address announcement will be made asking the spectators to cease this behavior.
At this time, game management will be watching closely for offenders.
If the situation cannot be brought under control, the officials may stop the game until it is or they may suspend the game. There have been suspended games that had to be completed days later without any spectators present!
In every pre-game conference, officials demand good sportsmanship from the players.
These children deserve an opportunity to play a game in an atmosphere in which they can be comfortable and have some fun, while representing their school and striving for excellence.
It’s a shame when angry, biased fans spoil it for them!