Student-Athlete Given Five-Game Suspension for Tweet

Hilbert (Wis.) High School basketball player April Gehl has been suspended for five basketball games for a tweet, according to the Appleton Post-Crescent.

Her tweet expressed displeasure with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Activities Association’s recent missive sent to schools regarding sportsmanship. The tweet contains profanity and can be seen here.

In an email sent out in late December, the WIAA listed several chants directed at opposing participants and fans that would be considered unsportsmanlike behavior. “As we reviewed the fall tournaments and the sportsmanship evaluations and observations, we want to address 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,” wrote WIAA director of communications Todd Clark, calling out examples of chants such as “You can’t do that,” “Air ball,” “There’s a net there,” and “We can’t hear you.”

The WIAA has received public backlash for its email as well as its reaction to Gehl’s tweet. Some have criticized the organization for being overly sensitive and limiting with its definition of a disrespectful cheer.

In regards to Gehl’s suspension, WIAA rules state that a player can be suspended for minimum of one game for alcohol, tobacco or drug violations. Players can also be suspended for in-game conduct and for a transfer-related violation. However, the rules do not allow for the WIAA to suspend an individual athlete for social media-related content.

According to Clark, the tweet was brought to the WIAA’s attention and the WIAA then informed the school. Hilbert's athletic director Stan Diedrich said that after receiving the information he “dealt with the matter in accordance with board policy” and suspended Gehl on Wednesday, January 8th.

{module Tweet Suspension}


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