This academic year was a banner one for Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association members — but not in a good way.
The Nashville Tennessean reports that 618 student-athletes were ejected from high school contests during the 2018-19 school year, a figure that represents a nearly 23 percent increase from the previous year and one that is likely a state record.
The shocking numbers led some on the TSSAA board of control to ask whether something can be done to better promote sportsmanship.
“I think it’s something to look at,” Memphis Central principal and board of control member Greg McCullough told the Tennessean. “I think we have to educate. We have to start with our coaches first. We’ve got to educate our people on how we are going to secure games and just having certain people in certain spaces. I think we need to meet with our athletes in every sport and tell them our expectations.”
The ejection spike was fueled in part by the number of fights that took place this year. Two football teams and six boys basketball teams were put on restrictive probation, either by the TSSAA or by the school system, for having engaged in fights at games.
Despite the increase in athlete ejections, fewer coaches were ejected this year than last. Sports ranging from football to boys and girls soccer to boys and girls basketball saw increases in ejections. Boys golf even recorded an ejection — the first such action in the past nine years. Baseball actually saw fewer ejections, dropping to 62 from the previous year’s 76.