MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A more than 20 percent increase in ejections among Tennessee high school athletes led some TSSAA Board of Control members to ask whether there needs to be more discussion to promote sportsmanship.
A likely state-record 618 athletes were ejected from high school contests during the 2018-19 school year, the TSSAA released on the first day of the board’s June meetings at DoubleTree Hotel.
That’s up from 503 athlete ejections a year ago, an increase of 22.9 percent. TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said he could not remember when there was a higher total.
“I think it’s something to look at,” said Memphis Central principal Greg McCullough, a Board of Control member representing West Tennessee. “I think we have to educate. We have to start with our coaches first.
“We’ve got to educate our people on how we are going to secure games and just having people in certain spaces. I think we need to meet with our athletes in every sport and tell them our expectations.”
The increase in athlete ejections coincides with a higher number of teams being put on restrictive probation for fighting during the 2018-19 school year.
Two football programs — Antioch and Overton — along with six boys basketball programs — Adamsville, Fairley, Melrose, Scotts Hill, Stratford and Westwood — were put on restrictive probation at least one postseason by the TSSAA or the school system for fighting at games.
Football had the biggest increase with 188 ejections, up from 153 in 2018. Boys soccer increased from 126 to 156. Girls soccer increased from 29 to 47. Boys basketball was up from 68 to 81. Girls basketball increased from 21 to 50. Wrestling increased from 24 to 25. Softball was up from six to eight and boys golf had the first ejection in at least nine years.
Baseball declined from 76 to 62.
Coach ejections dropped from 75 to 68.
Cane Ridge principal Michel Sanchez, who is a Board of Control member, said she meets with all of her sports teams prior to the season and discusses her expectations. Cane Ridge did not have any ejections during the 2018-19 school year.
“Not every principal does it, but I got to every team and I tell them how they represent us,” Sanchez said. “I as executive principal meet with every team — not at once.
“I feel like the eye is on us a lot. I tell them they represent their families; they represent their school; they represent their peers. Not everybody gets to do this. It’s an honor and a privilege to represent us. That’s my expectation.
“My expectation for students is to graduate high school. This (athletics) is extra.”