Coaches should explain what is expected of students and why they should conduct themselves in a manner "as to eliminate the possibility of any action that would unnecessarily excite athletes," according to the policy draft.
The policy also asks school coaches to collaborate with the cheerleading coach to eliminate cheers of "questionable or inflammatory natures."
Steve Freeman, newly named coach at Riverside High School, said there's nothing wrong with teaching respect to student athletes, but issuing a policy does have him concerned that coaches won't be able to make judgment calls on the field.
"Sportsmanship is the reason we play the game -- that's what it's all about, and there are a lot of life skills in sports that you can't get in the classroom. I think the problem with a policy is there are certain instances where we'll be unsure if we're going to be reprimanded when we feel like it's inappropriate to follow the procedures," he said.
While he teaches his players about self-control, he can't control the actions of the other team, Freeman said, and a policy like this one creates a gray area when it comes to safety.
"There are a lot of questions. You can't always control everyone, and sometimes when you have teenagers competing at a high physical level, tempers flare. At Riverside, a player who doesn't show good sportsmanship is going to be disciplined regardless," he said.
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission outlines the standards for sportsmanship, ethics and integrity for teams.
"As long as it meets our guidelines, we think the principals and coaches should make the decisions because they are the ones who have their hands on the heartbeat of the issues," said WVSSAC Executive Director Gary Ray. "Many of our counties go above and beyond what they have to do. Some counties have even increased the GPA standards to become an athlete."
South Charleston High School football coach Donnie Mays said the motives behind the policy are simple.
"Sportsmanship is a part of the game, and putting a policy in place is just another way of saying you have to do it," he said. "When you're on the field, you never know who's watching -- a future boss or college coach. You should always treat others the way you want to be treated. It's as simple as that."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.