OK Conference enforcing flag rules; no USA chant except after national anthem at athletic events

Posted at 2:27 PM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 21:41:44-04

GRANDVILLE, Mich. – The OK-Conference has stepped in and is enforcing fan behavior rules in light of an incident last week involving fans displaying a Betsy Ross flag and a Donald Trump banner at a high school football game.

OK Commissioner Jim Haskins sent the message to schools Wednesday.  In it, the Athletic Director President and the Executive Board also decided that fans will only be allowed to chant “USA, USA” immediately after the playing of the National Anthem as a salute to our country.  This is because fans have been using the “USA” chant during other parts of the game implying different meanings for the “U.S.A.” letters.

Haskins tells FOX 17 that the “USA” chant that is causing issues is often chanted after the opposing team makes a mistake, such as a fumble or a missed basket or missed kick.  He says they have heard the phrase is intended then to mean “U Suck A**”.

Haskins’ message also advised schools to review a page in the OK Conference Handbook regarding signs and banners displayed at athletic events. The handbook says:

Any signs, flags, banners, chants, cheers, or promotional material that carry questionable implications or are degrading are prohibited at any OK Conference venue.

Haskins tells schools that the rule should be enforced and if both schools don’t agree on questionable material, they should come down or be stopped until a meeting can review the situation with other division members and the Commissioner’s office.

He also advises schools check their policies of political materials on school property and regarding candidates handing out materials at athletic events.

The issue came to light last weekend at a game at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids between Forest Hills Central and Ottawa Hills.  Some Forest Hills students waved a Donald Trump Make America Great Again banner and a U.S. flag which is known as the Betsy Ross flag, which has been adopted by some white supremacy groups because the flag was used in the U.S. while slavery was still legal.