girls basketball

Wisconsin athlete suspended for tweet about state athletic association

April Gehl, a three-sport star at Hilbert High School, was suspended for five basketball games for a tweet directed at the WIAA. (Photo: Danny Damiani, Post-Crescent Media)

April Gehl, a three-sport star at Hilbert High School, was suspended for five basketball games for a tweet directed at the WIAA.
(Photo: Danny Damiani, Post-Crescent Media)

The tumultuous world of social media has hit home for Hilbert High School athlete April Gehl in Wisconsin.

The three-sport star and one of the top scorers for the Wolves’ girls’ basketball team was informed by Hilbert athletic director Stan Diedrich on Wednesday that she would be suspended for five games during the current winter season due to a tweet that Gehl posted on Twitter concerning the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Gehl said. “I was like, ‘Really? For tweeting my opinion?’ I thought it was ridiculous.”

Gehl’s tweet, which contained profanity directed toward the WIAA, was her off-the-cuff response to a WIAA email that took students to task for an increasing number of student-section chants at sporting events that mock the opposing team or school.

The email, from director of communication Todd Clark, concerns “sportsmanship” and what the WIAA feels is an increase in the “amount of chants by student sections directed at opponents and/or opponents’ supporters that are clearly intended to disrespect.”

Included in the WIAA email were examples such as “You can’t do that,” “Fundamentals,” “Air ball,” “There’s a net there,” “Sieve,” “We can’t hear you,” the “scoreboard” cheer and “season’s over” during tournament play.

That email was sent to member schools in December. It was forwarded by Hilbert school officials earlier this week to the school’s students and was also in their daily announcements on Monday, according to April Gehl.

Jill Gehl, April’s mother, said the WIAA sent Diedrich a snapshot of Gehl’s tweet with limited direction other than to “please take care of it.”

Diedrich was reached Friday morning about the suspension, but was unable to give specifics.

“I can tell you that the WIAA contacted me with information,” Diedrich said. “Once given the information, we dealt with the matter in accordance with board policy.”

Clark said in an email Friday to Post-Crescent Media that April Gehl’s tweet was brought to the attention of the WIAA. The school was then informed.

“To be clear, there was no language in our correspondence with the school that stated to ‘take care of this,'” Clark said. “That determination is for the member school to address. But these issues, like other sportsmanship issues brought to our attention, are shared with our members for their awareness.”

Click here for more of this story

35 comments
RHR
RHR

This makes the WIAA look like a bunch of bullies. Bullies are people who abuse their power to hurt less powerful people. That is exactly what the WIAA is doing. They have NO right to punish April for exercising her constitutional free speech rights outside of school. But they are still hurting her because they are more powerful. That's what bullies do. Doesn't the WIAA have an anti-bullying policy? If so, someone should file a complaint. And where is the ACLU to defend this girl? This is why the ACLU exists; to defend the powerless from government action violating our rights.

Cheryltsaunder2
Cheryltsaunder2

5 games really? That's a lot of possible points and wins for her team! This is a ridiculous, extreme, punishment! This young female athlete is possibly headed to 1000 point Varsity career basketball goal. I don't know for sure, as I Am a Valders High School Parent. Would the punishment really have been the same if it was a male star athlete? I highly doubt it! Someone also mentioned that this young female athlete is being punished worse than if she would have been caught under age drinking! Wow great message!!! I don't agree with her phrase she used, but I do not agree with WIAA trying to stop the students from harmless cheering! They are not cheering profanities! I played sports in the 80's cheers were harsher, we all survived just fine😊 Lighten up buttercup!

Jace Miller
Jace Miller

@Cheryltsaunder2 Don't play the women lib card, girls called for Friday night basketball games, etc. - they got it. Every high school has a code of conduct for their student athletes. The punishment was not overkill, it was just and fair given the language she used. Want to be a winner and leader? Then act like one. Sadly, if her team tanks the rest of the season, everyone will blame WIAA; all the while her teammates and coach will know it was her doing. When a student athlete neglects their duties, they do not deserve to play. As a coach, I have benched star players because they felt getting nails done was more important than practice, showing up to Saturday practice hungover, etc. Imagine receiving a one semester suspension courtesy of the ISHAA for providing fellow students with tobacco products, that was my punishment in '93.

RonnieMorrow
RonnieMorrow

Making a comment with cursing words actually makes you look like a fool. Our language is rich in words use them to make your points. As for the examples shown by the WIAA is too tame for any words. Donald Trump would be banned from all sporting events by the WIAA and school board.

AlanLee2
AlanLee2

More PC from a progressive liberal state full of it. I fully understand where Ms. Gehl is coming from. More pussification of America.

KevinInBirmingham
KevinInBirmingham

@AlanLee2 Wisconsin has a Republican governor, 1/2 Senators are Republican, 5/8 of Congressmen are Republican, and 2/3 of the State representatives are Republicans.  How does that constitute a liberal stronghold?

ChrisPiper1
ChrisPiper1

This is true, but unfortunately, the liberals run Madison, and Stevens Point where the WIAA headquarters is located...sadly...

darth_meatloaf
darth_meatloaf

@AlanLee2 I wasn't aware that taking away worker's rights and reducing government accountability was considered 'progressive' and 'liberal' now.  I guess you learn something every day...

MostDisenchanted
MostDisenchanted

@darth_meatloaf @AlanLee2 Enlighten me please. What workers' rights you are speaking about. And what rights do "workers" have in terms of "rights" vis-à-vis the rest of the citizenry?

KevinInBirmingham
KevinInBirmingham

School administration would be getting an earful from me if I was her parent.  How the hell do you suspend someone for comments on twitter?

yashikor
yashikor

@KevinInBirmingham Not suspending her implies that there is no responsibility or potential consequence for saying whatever you like whenever you like. Freedom of speech is not a universal right. If you say something you have to stand behind it. Cursing in public is stupid and counter productive. She is still legally a child and the WIAA, her school and her parents decided that she be taught that vulgarity is not necessary to speak your mind. She will think twice about being trashy and arrogant the next time she speaks. Further, if we are lucky, it will teach her to be smart about how she thumbs her nose at the those she thinks have made stupid decisions. Keep fighting the man, just don't be a fool by showing your trashy side.

KevinInBirmingham
KevinInBirmingham

@yashikor No, it implies that it's none of their damn business.  Unless she was at school when she did it, what language she uses is outside their purview.  Also, I see nothing in this article that supports your claim that her parents agreed with this punishment.

AndyHapka
AndyHapka

@RichardFink1 in this case the government (school) is punishing her for her speech.  I don't recall Sterling being punished by the government.  Hence, constitutional rights do come into play.  As far as I'm concerned, if she didn't say it at school or on school equipment, it's her free speech right.

MostDisenchanted
MostDisenchanted

@yashikor @KevinInBirmingham I guess I'm not privy to the Sterling incident so I'll not comment about that. But as to the statement that freedom of speech is not a universal right, then I will remark. Some statements that cause chaos or rioting have been judged to be outside the purview of freedom of speech. Maybe others?

But I'm certainly sure that telling the WIAA to Eat Sh-t does not fall within that purview. So if her parents want to take her task that is between them.

I don't understand why the parents wanted to involve a government bureaucracy. And the WIAA is a government bureaucracy by the very fact that they are laying down rules about whatever.

The whole thing is ridiculous. She made a poor choice of words. The WIAA made a very poor regulation about conduct among free individuals. Everyone is wrong, I think.

RichardFink1
RichardFink1

@AndyHapka @RichardFink1 , Playing high school sports is not a right, it's a privilege.  While it's true that she didn't say at school, she did say as a member of the school's team.  If she felt that strongly about it, she could resign from the team.

KevinInBirmingham
KevinInBirmingham

@RichardFink1 There is a big difference.  One was a business decision by independent businessmen. The other was agents of the government punishing someone for speech.  

RHR
RHR

@RichardFink1 @AndyHapka No one said playing high school sports is a right. Free speech is a right. The school may not infringe that right. This means that they may not suspend her for expressing her opinion on Twitter. 

WillGanz
WillGanz

What was the actual Tweet? Real reporting here.  >:\

The only opinions permitted are those that comply with the agenda. That is the only way there can be 'Diversity of Thought'.

RHS76
RHS76

@WillGanz She tweeted "Eat --- WIAA." You can guess the four letter dashes to what she used. 

AndyHapka
AndyHapka

April is right on this.  We have a government organization (the school district) punishing a person for speech outside of school.  That's wrong.

IMRight
IMRight

April earned her suspension.  I hope Hilbert loses every game they play once she returns!!!

RHR
RHR

@IMRight Are you serious? What totalitarian regime are you a shill for? Do you have any idea what our Constitution says? You cannot "earn" a repression of your free speech rights. 

rebels25
rebels25

@IMRight Under the new WIAA rules, your hurtful comments and negative wishes are actionable offenses.  You can only make supportive comments of any team so you should wish her team success but wish all the others an equal amount of success. Can't all the teams just finish at .500 and eliminate the need to spend money on playoffs and other exclusionary activities that promote team association and competitive spirit? Come on people.... we've got mediocrity to pursue here!

RichardFink1
RichardFink1

@RHR @IMRight , What our Constitution says and how the courts are applying it are two different things.  The Constitution needs to be read AS WRITTEN.  If you want to change, consult Article V, not the Supreme court.

DanielGage
DanielGage

Sadly, if she would have been involved in underage drinking it probably would have only cost her a couple games. It's pathetic how sensitive everyone has become. Let the student sections have fun, and help the opposing teams learn that life isn't fair, easy or always rainbows and sunshine. I agree with April and her tweet.

MostDisenchanted
MostDisenchanted

@DanielGage I agree.


I also think that calling these people "sensitive" is really not the case. It is a euphemism. They are bullies in reverse. Every word, attitude, action etc. that does not comport with the leftists'  current rigid rules about total control over other people is deemed to be "offensive", and therefore must banned. They actually consider Political Correctness and PC speech to be the only civil discourse acceptable. And they use the government and its bureaucracies to enforce their opinions. Such as the one we are discussing.

report123
report123

Sounds like the little girl doesn't understand the definition of an opinion. 

JRonaldJenkins
JRonaldJenkins

@report123 Thank you!
Apparently, MSN and USAToday couldn't do this. It was what: 2 minutes of work?
Either they're too stupid, lazy or protective of this chick to do some damn reporting.
If this was a male or a WOC doing something stupid, I'm sure they'd have every detail laid out in the title of the story.
And for the record, she deserved a suspension.

DamonTammas
DamonTammas

Why post this story without the actual tweet? 

Latest News