Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has dual degrees in music from Ohio State University.


The governing body for Ohio high school sports issued a statement Wednesday on adult behavior at sporting events.  If it was meant to rehabilitate, it came far short.  We’re way past the point of begging people to be better.

Overnight Thursday a reader from Auglaize County sent me an article from a local paper with a headline that read, “OHSAA Issues Stern Warning On Adult Behavior”.  I read it, looking for “The bucks stops here.”   But no buck, and no stopping.  And really…nothing stern at all.

What it did say was that if adults don’t lighten up at high school sports events that soon there’ll be no officials to work those games and matches.  And without officials, there are no sports.  That’s true.

But we all know that warnings like that aren’t taken seriously by people who believe that high school sports is our God-given right, can never be taken away, and will go on in perpetuity regardless of how many fools and idiotic behavior.

I love OHSAA commissioner Jerry Snodgrass – good man, good coach and athletic director during his days at Findlay High School.  Snodgrass knows the state, he knows the people, and he knows the score of society and its leaning toward kinder, gentler…and don’t offend anyone.

Snodgrass knows…that governing bodies (any governing body) are really toothless to rehabilitate in a day when districts are so worried about funding, and passing the next levy.  So there’s really no coming down on someone who screams at an official if the local superintendent is more concerned about passing levys…than levying the ‘death penalty’ that would ban someone from attending games for life.  You can’t afford bad public relations in politics, and education is not that much different now than Congress!

On their website this week the OHSAA published the following guidelines for adult behavior, about which there is nothing “stern” at all.  It’s just the stuff that Dad and Mom have said at the kitchen table for generations.

Act Your Age. You are, after all, an adult. Act in a way that makes your family and school proud.

Don’t Live Your Life Vicariously Through Your Children. High school sports are for them, not you. Your family’s reputation is not determined by how well your children perform on the field of play.

Let Your Children Talk to the Coach Instead of You Doing It for Them. High school athletes learn how to become more confident, independent and capable—but only when their parents don’t jump in and solve their problems for them.

Stay in Your Own Lane. No coaching or officiating from the sidelines. Your role is to be a responsible, supportive parent—not a coach or official.

Remember, Participating in a High School Sport Is Not About Getting a College Scholarship. According to the NCAA, only about 2% of all high school athletes are awarded a sports scholarship, and the total value of the scholarship is only about $18,000.

Make Sure Your Children Know You Love Watching Them Play. Do not critique your child’s performance on the car ride home. Participating in high school sports is about character development, learning and having fun—not winning and losing.

Purchasing a ticket to a high school athletic event does not give you the right to be rude, disrespectful or verbally abusive. Cheer loud and be proud, but be responsible and respectful. The future of high school sports in Ohio is dependent on you.

Stern?  Hardly.  Just begging people to be better – a line in the sand that the habitual perpetrator is going to read and say, “Oh yeah, and what if I don’t?”

I do feel sorry for Jerry Snodgrass, who, like you and me, grew up in the era when there were consequences for one’s actions.  But now we live in a day where zero tolerance is all that people understand, and yet we won’t have that. Too offensive – too risky.

We’re toothless in a day of helplessness, where we cannot protect ourselves…from ourselves!