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Hilbert, Wisconsin high school basketball player April Gehl was suspended six games by her school over a tweet against a new state association policy banning popular basketball and hockey chants, such as “airball” and “sieve.”
Gehl issued a vulgar tweet to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (WIAA) official Twitter account on January 4th, saying “Eat S*** WIAA,” along with a screenshot of the official e-mail sent from the WIAA to member schools. Gehl was suspended by Hilbert Athletic Director Stan Diedrich two days after the school was notified by WIAA about the social media message. Gehl’s tweet has not been deleted from her account since the suspension. According to the Appleton Post-Crescent, she is not appealing her suspension. Gehl is currently the leading scorer on her basketball team.
The tweet was sparked in response to a policy by WIAA banning chants directed towards opposing teams. The WIAA sent the e-mail back in December with the stated intention of “address[ing] concerns with a noticeable increase in the amount of chants by student sections directed at opponents and/or opponents’ supporters that are clearly intended to taunt or disrespect.”
The e-mail would lay out an edict to its member schools to ban some popular chants at games that are at no means at all profane or derogatory.
“Some specific examples of unsporting behavior by student groups including chants directed at opposing participants and/or fans. Among the chants that have been heard at recent high school sporting events are: ‘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 series play,” said the WIAA.
The official sportsmanship reference manual from the WIAA has previously put in place directives to administrators to clamp down on these chants, which do not look offensive to this writer.
Twitter users have already leveled a firestorm of criticism towards the actions of Hilbert High School and the WIAA to suspend Gehl, citing that her First Amendment rights were violated. National media outlets such as Daily Mail and USA Today