SE: K-State Committed to Sportsmanship

K-State Athletics has partnered with K-State students, and together, they’re taking sportsmanship seriously. 
K-State Athletics staff, as well as student government (SGA) leadership, leaders from the K-State Proud campaign and members from the Athletics Student Advisory team – a group of 20 undergraduate students who work closely with K-State Athletics in voicing student opinions – formed a Sportsmanship Committee last spring and have been working diligently to ensure the traditional family environment at Wildcat sporting events continues to grow.
The Sportsmanship Committee is the voice of K-State students who are committed to upholding K-State’s reputation as one of the most welcoming schools in the Big 12, and it has high hopes of diminishing foul language and inappropriate chants on game days. 
“Joe Tinker (K-State Student Body Vice President) and I consider ourselves the biggest K-State sports fans out there,” said K-State Student Body President Andrew Hurtig, a member of the Sportsmanship Committee. “So we certainly understand the crazy energy that students have, but at the end of the day, we’re also two of many students who are concerned about K-State’s image as a whole. It’s something we take such pride in. We don’t want other people talking badly about our university because of what we’re doing. Rather, we want people to think we’re nice and welcoming because those are the things we pride ourselves on at K-State. We like the energy, but we think the bigger picture is K-State and how we are represented.”
Working with K-State Athletics staff, the Sportsmanship Committee has a detailed timeline of when and how it will continue spreading its message throughout the 2015-16 academic and athletic year. With K-State opening its 2015 football season against South Dakota on Saturday at 6:10 p.m., in Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the time is now to get the word out.
The group’s efforts became known earlier this month when, before K-State students picked up their game tickets, they each signed a sportsmanship pledge. The idea for the pledge was discussed and introduced by the Sportsmanship Committee.  
“We have one of the best relationships in the country with our student body,” said Joni Smoller, K-State Athletics Senior Director of Fan Experience and Sales and a K-State graduate. “The Student Advisory Team has met for several years now and represents all different kinds of students on campus, whether they’re season pass holders or not. Some of those students are on the Sportsmanship Committee, so we’ve been working closely with them and we’ve seen their enthusiasm. They’re passionate about trying to solve this. They have taken ownership and don’t feel like they’ve been told to address the issues by the administration or the Big 12 Conference. Instead, they’re saying, ‘This is not the K-State way and it doesn’t represent the K-State family, so how can we make a difference to solve it?’”
Along with the pledge, the committee also released a video featuring K-State head coach Bill Snyder. In the video, Snyder speaks to the students about the importance of sportsmanship and family.
With the goal of reaching as many students as possible, the committee also works closely with campus groups including K-State Proud.
“Through K-State Proud, we’re in the position to reach a lot of students,” explained Alec Khoury, a member of the Student Foundation and K-State Proud Chair. “So when the student body president reached out to us to see if we wanted to come on board with the Sportsmanship Committee, I was interested. I went to one of the meetings and it sounded exactly like what K-State Proud is all about, so we got on board with it.”
K-State Proud’s motto is simple: Students Helping Students. It is a student-led, nationally-recognized fundraising campaign of K-State students taking care of their own. It prides itself in the K-State family and upholding the long-time values of the university.
Khoury believes recent chants by K-State students at Wildcat sporting events do not stand by those values. 
“It’s something that needs to be handled,” continued Khoury. “(The chant) turned into something that, a few years ago might not have been as big of a deal, but it’s gotten to the point now where you’ll hear that chant everywhere you go. Especially with the national recognition we’re getting, it’s kind of embarrassing. As students, we don’t want to be seen that way on a national level, so I’m on board with promoting sportsmanship and this committee is too.”
And it’s not just student government leaders who are vocal in the Sportsmanship Committee, many passionate student fans have joined in as well. 
Emily Writer, a senior dual majoring in agricultural communications and public relations, joined the Student Advisory Team in 2014, and when she heard about the opportunity to make a difference through the Sportsmanship Committee, she dove right in.
“I’ve been a K-State fan my entire life,” she said. “For basketball games, I was there in the front row at almost every game this season. The group I go with, we try to avoid the negative yelling, and of course, it happens, but I’ve always loved K-State and the family atmosphere, so I’ve wanted to keep the environment positive and keep it classy. Joining the Sportsmanship Committee was a way to encourage that.”
From collegiate to professional sports venues, sportsmanship among fans is a national issue. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby recently spoke about a conference-wide emphasis on providing good sportsmanship, and K-State Athletics is committed to the conference’s new initiative. 
K-State boasts the ‘best fan experience in the Big 12,’ and, as the athletics department and students continue to work together, that experience will only continue to grow for students and fans alike. 
“K-State games should be a place where our great fans create an extremely intimidating environment, but also one where parents feel comfortable bringing their young children. This committee is made up of people who wish to maintain that type of atmosphere and culture,” said Smoller. “Poor sportsmanship isn’t who we are, so we’re working together with the student body and trying to fix it so we can keep K-State traditions and represent the K-State family well.” 

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.