TOWNSEND — Students at North Middlesex Regional High School are banned from cheering on their sports teams in the stands until further notice following several complaints about inappropriate language and behavior.
“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,” Principal Tim McMahon wrote in a letter sent to families.
McMahon cited “seemingly weekly complaints” involving “student fans’ inappropriate use of language, taunting behavior, and vulgarity at athletic contests.”
Each incident was addressed and discussed after it occurred, McMahon wrote, but administrators were forced to make the decision as the incidents continued.
“I feel it’s critical that students understand that inappropriate behavior is a poor reflection upon themselves, their families, and our school community,” McMahon added.
The decision is unpopular among students at the regional school, which serves the towns of Townsend, Pepperell and Ashby.
Junior Samantha Miller said she and her friends, who enjoy attending basketball games, understand the decision but are disappointed.
“I wish that the people didn’t ruin it for everyone else,” the 16-year-old said. “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.”
Her mother, Cindy Miller, shared the opinion of many parents discussing the temporary rule on social media.
“I think that’s probably what needed to be done,” Cindy Miller said. “I think that they evaluated things carefully, and a lot of the administration took things into consideration. And I think they probably did what they had to do.”
There are a few exceptions to the rule: Siblings of athletes can attend athletic events if they are with a parent for the entire event. Junior varsity athletes who travel to away games on the same bus as the varsity team are allowed to watch the later games under the supervision of the coaches.
But junior varsity players playing in home games before the varsity team game must go home after playing instead of watching the next game.
Administrators will reevaluate the decision by Feb. 1. Until then, there will be no student section in the stands.
“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,” McMahon wrote in the letter.
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