Athletic events are a very important aspect of school life and provide a wholesome way to influence the positive growth and development of our students. They can foster team building, health and fitness, and community spirit. Whether our children participate as athletes or spectators, they can gain immeasurable value from these contests.
Along with the privilege of participating in an athletic contest, either as a spectator or player, comes the responsibility to exhibit exemplary conduct, spirit and sportsmanship. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has been recognized in the past for its outstanding conduct and the example it portrays for others on and off the playing field.
Here is our concern. In the past few years we have seen more middle and elementary school pupils left unsupervised by their parents at high school athletic games and -- as a consequence -- more incidents of misconduct and other inappropriate behaviors by these pupils. This has particularly become a problem at night-time football games, where we can have as many as 1,000 people attending including an estimated 200 8th grade and younger pupils.
We seem to have more parents dropping their 4th to 8th grade children off at the high school and then picking them up after the game. This is not safe. It is particularly unsafe at night-time football games, where a number of kids disappear into the woods or congregate on the adjoining unlighted sports fields to socialize and unfortunately also to become involved in misconduct.
While we have numerous chaperones, the size of the campus and number of spectators diminish our ability to safely supervise unattended youngsters.
We are bringing this topic to your attention and we are changing our athletic attendance practice (see below) because it would be irresponsible for us as school leaders not to do so. No one wants to wait until a child is seriously injured at or abducted from one of our games to issue new safety rules.
Many BH-BL residents moved here because this was such a safe and a healthy place to raise children. We believe this is still true, and that it can continue to be true as our community grows and changes, if we are willing to work together to actively model and teach children appropriate behavior and expectations.