North Middlesex Regional High School students have been banned from cheering on their sports teams until further notice due to ongoing complaints of inappropriate language and behavior, according to school officials.
“Due to repeated complaints from our own NM parents/families, opposing parents, and administrators, we have made the decision to temporarily restrict NM students from attending all school-related athletic events, both home and away contests,” Tim McMahon, principal of the Townsend school, wrote in a letter to families, which parents have posted online. “This will go into effect immediately and will be revisited by school and district administration on February 1.”
Throughout the course of the school year, McMahon said he’s received too many messages about North Middlesex student fans exhibiting an “inappropriate use of language, taunting behavior, and vulgarity at athletic contests.”
While the principal said administrators have addressed each incident individually, the continued concern led them to make more action.
“I feel it’s critical that students understand that inappropriate behavior is a poor reflection upon themselves, their families, and our school community,” McMahon wrote. “Students have consistently been informed that all actions have consequences and, regrettably, these repeated actions have brought us to this point.”
Many community members have discussed the news on Facebook.
One woman responded saying, “Poor sportsmanship is learned from parents and coaches. I hope this causes a bit of self reflection for all adults who coach or parent our kids.”
While another said, “Thank you for addressing the situation. When this restriction is lifted, those not involved in these actions, but are being punished as well, should hold the wrong doers accountable before there’s a chance of it happening again. That is community: accountability and integrity.”
A North Middlesex student, junior Samantha Miller, told Boston 25 News that she enjoyed attending games with her friends and understands the decision, but is still disappointed.
“I wish that the people didn’t ruin it for everyone else,” Miller told the station. “And I feel like it’s unfair, and they should just be kicked out of the game and not ruining the whole thing for everyone.”
McMahon did note a few exceptions to this new rule: Siblings of athletes will be permitted to attend junior varsity and varsity competitions as long as they’re accompanied by a parent for the entire event. And when students travel for junior varsity away games on a shared bus with the varsity team, they are allowed to stay at the game as spectators under a coach’s supervision.
When it comes to home games though, junior varsity athletes are expected to go home after their respective games even if a varsity game is taking place afterward.
Until administrators revisit the decision on Feb. 1, the student section of the stands will remain empty.
“This is not a decision that was made lightly or without significant conversation with school and district administration. I also understand that it may not be a popular one,” McMahon said in his letter. “That said, I am optimistic that we can get to a point where students are welcomed back into our athletic events in the near future without compromising our expectations for their behavior and decorum.”