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.”