Officials Weigh Booing Ban at High School Games

From brawls on professional basketball courts to out-of-control parents at Little League games, unsportsmanlike behavior can be a problem.

Now, some high school sporting officials in Washington state are considering tough new rules -- including a ban on booing.

Those who support the ban say that too often, spectators are cruel.

"It's the organized effort to try to intimidate or try to make fun of someone that becomes personal in nature that can escalate then into other concerns that we might have," said Mike Colbrese, executive director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

Colbrese and his colleagues said they have trouble hiring coaches and referees because of the abuse they take. By banning booing from the stands, they believe they can create a more welcoming environment on the court and field.

Experts agree that behavior at school sports events is not what it used to be.

"Parents are more intense, family members are more intense, siblings are more intense," said Christine Brennan, a USA Today sports columnist and ABC News consultant. "Everything is ratcheted up."

The Interscholastic Association claims it just wants to reinforce good sportsmanship.

"I'm trying to figure out why people think booing is acceptable in the first place," Colbrese said.

The Boo Police?

At the Washington state high school basketball championships Saturday night, the fans were on their best behavior. But some weren't pleased that their right to boo might be taken away.

"The crowd should be able to say what they want to say," said one woman. "They pay their money. They should be able to boo if they want to.

Another fan was skeptical about how officials could police booing.

"What are they going to do, put everybody out of the stadium?" she asked.

Even Brennan can't picture a stadium free of negative commentary from the stands.

"I wouldn't know what to do if I were at a sporting event and no one booed," she said.

For now, spectators of high school sports can heckle and holler with the best of them. But if officials have their way in Washington state, fan behavior will improve -- no ifs, ands or boos.