From now on, you should read it before you sign it.
Each season athletes and their parents are required to sign the athletic code to indicate that they have read the requirements and agree to honor the policies. The code states that failure to comply will result in consequences ranging from single-game suspensions to dismissal from the team.
Administration of consequences has been inconsistent. So, just as students test school rules, athletes test the athletic code. By the end of football season, Athletic Director Don Readance had seen enough.
“We are reviewing and emphasizing the athletic code, letting student athletes know that it exists,” Readance said. The athletic code can be found in the student handbook and online.
The new emphasis emerged after five football players were suspended for fighting during a JV football game. While the athletic code has not changed, Readance stressed that there would be zero tolerance for athletes violating the athletic code from now on.
“There were some things that happened during the fall that prompted me to look for ways that we can improve behavior,” he said.
Football head coach Jarvis Gibson and Readance would not name the players involved in the fight. However, Gibson said the root of the problem was an individual player with the wrong attitude. “He faced his consequences,” Gibson said.
The attendance requirement is another policy athletes have ignored. The code states that athletes may not accumulate five unexcused absences in a class. Doing so will result in ineligibility for the remainder of the semester. Despite this, athletes interviewed acknowledged they or teammates had accrued more than five unexcused absences with no consequences.
Readance hopes that by strictly enforcing the athletic code he will see improvements in behavior. Also, Readance feels the problem is larger than student athletes because inappropriate and aggressive behavior exhibited by college and professional athletes affects young athletes negatively. “Those behaviors are what our kids see, and a lot of the times, mimic,” Readance said.
When Readance met with winter and spring teams, he stressed the responsibility associated with being a student athlete. “Student athletes have a certain standard to meet and expectations that are probably higher than the average student’s,” Readance said.
The athletic code’s personal code of conduct states that “participants must earn the right to represent Shaker Heights City Schools by conducting themselves in such a way that the image of the Shaker Heights City School District would not be tarnished in any manner.”
It’s an idea Readance wants athletes to honor.
“The student-athlete population . . .should stand out above the norm in a positive way,” Readance said.
He added, “It’s a privilege to play athletics; you’re not entitled to it.”
A version of this article appeared in print on 8 February 2012, on page 14 of The Shakerite.