Staff Reflection: Lisa Quednow
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2022 - 2:20 PM
You can hear the chants on any given high school game night.
“No one likes you.”
“Start the Bus.”
These are considered “normal” chants. But are they really “normal” as fans cheer them? Do we understand the impact it might have on the students it is directed at?
We have seen in the past year, highlighted events and situations where these “normal” cheers have crossed the line and become direct targeting to groups of players or schools.
These behaviors have drawn harsh criticism from the public, in asking what the state of high schools sports is, and what we the “MSHSL” and member schools are allowing. As a direct result of some of these behaviors, an impactful and intentional initiative has evolved to hear student voices and provide intentional opportunities to change the course of event and game behavior that is directed towards student participants.
I have had the fortunate opportunity to be a part of this important work, and I can tell you it has changed me.
I always had appreciation for the stories and voices of students, and more directly, student-athletes and participants in our Fine Arts. This initiative has solidified my idea that student input and ideas are so valuable.
In working with Paula Forbes, of Forbes Solutions, I have learned the value of making each person you interact with feel welcome and safe. This has been highlighted as we moved through the state and invited districts to bring students to be a part of World Café’s where they would answer and interact with three powerful questions around what they want their activities and athletic experiences to be like.
The outcomes have been special and valuable for adults to understand that students want to be invited to take part, supported when they do take part and appreciated for their effort, whether it resulted in a win, loss, their personal best time, score or achievement or a learning experience that was not their best event. It was clear that feeling welcome and safe in the space they will participate, compete, or perform in is very impactful on the outcome.
How do we do this at our events, games, and activities? Do we have students welcome each other and share the “norms” of the gym, arena, building or theater? How impactful would it be to have peers share those thoughts and expectations, sharing how they want to be treated and how they plan to interact and treat the opponent and their school representatives? Making people feel welcome and sharing the basics is something that could have the most positive impact on most of our events. This simple act of “welcoming” can show that, while we are competing, we are going to give our best effort to “win” and we are also going to do that within the rules of the game, and social expectations of the event space, highlighting that the opponent is a valuable and important part of the game, contest, match, or event, and without that opponent, we would simply have practice.
It has been encouraging and uplifting to see kids from schools all over Minnesota realize and recognize that they are all similar.
Kids want good experiences, competitive events, positive support, and to be welcomed, accepted for who they are and appreciated for the effort they are making. The League is excited to work on the next steps of this initiative and hosting a student conference, that will invite the schools and students who have taken part this far to an event that will bring them all together to create ideas, language and thoughts to share with schools all over Minnesota on how to set a standard for positive, competitive behavior that will create safe, healthy and positive education based events for our students to participate in.