Basketball fans at a New Mexico high school have been warned to be on their best behavior, or risk the right to attend games for the rest of the season.

KRQE in Albuquerque, N.M., reports that Estancia High School has received a letter from the New Mexico Activities Association saying that bad behavior has become an issue at boys’ and girls’ basketball games, and that if any additional reports of such behavior are made to the NMAA, fans may be barred from attendance.

“It’s a very serious deal for us,” Estancia AD Stewart Burnett told KRQE.

The letter detailed incidents of bad behavior, mostly involving verbal exchanges between parents and officials. KRQE reports that multiple fans have been ejected from games over threatening or abusive behavior.

From ABHow to Weed Out Trouble-Making High School Sports Fans

In a weekly column on area prep basketball, Albuquerque Journal writer James Yodice described an incident where an officiating crew had to receive a police escort after a game at Estancia. In another incident, three parents were ejected from the same girls’ basketball game.

“I knew we were probably getting close to the NMAA intervening and getting involved,” Burnett said.

Officiating at any level can be a thankless job, but can be particularly challenging at the high school level. Abusive fan behavior is often cited as a reason for why fewer and fewer people are signing on to become referees. A shortage of officials can lead to all kinds of problems in high school athletics, so it’s something that must be taken seriously.

From AB: No Referees, No Games

Burnett told KRQE that he plans to increase the administration’s presence at future games, and make it clear to fans that they need to show better sportsmanship. If that fails and the NMAA does in fact ban fans from attending remaining games, Estancia could lose about $10,000 in revenue — a hole that would take the department years to recover from.

“I feel very confident that we as a community will rise to the occasion and we’re not going to cross that bridge,” Burnett said.

 

Jason Scott is Online Managing Editor of Athletic Business.