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

Photo from Houseman Field - Forest Hills Central students

Photo from Houseman Field - Forest Hills Central students

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.


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    • Jack Kramer

      I agree 10 fold, I am an ARMY veteran and the ignorance of this school district is astounding to me. This news station seems to becoming like news 8 aggreeing with these ignorant ideas!

  • Willie

    This is blatantly illegal under the First Amendment. Shame on the public schools. No wonder people want their kids to go to private schools.

      • wikkiwikki (@wikkiwikki)

        You blatantly don’t know how the first Amendment works either. First and foremost, USA means one and only one thing, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. If they were only yelling USA it still wouldn’t mean “you suck ass.” Now if you are retarded and didn’t pass first grade, then sure Uou suck ass might be acceptable. You see, as I am typing this and being offensive, there is nothing “legally” that you can do to get me to stop. You can however choose to voice your opinion. Doesn’t mean I will agree, but you have the right to argue my point.

        The first amendment states:
        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        The First Amendment Does NOT Protect…
        Hate speech is not protected. You can say “He is a friendly nigger.” or “Such a ugly neighborhood filled with so many happy crackers.” But!!!! If you were to say something that was spiteful like “Send the wetbacks back to mexico.” That would not be protected.

        Speech that incites violence or encourages the audience to commit illegal or dangerous acts.
        Basically the entirety of the BLM (black lives matter movement) is inciting violence towards white men and cops. Then they encourage them to burn the suburbs down, WTF!!!

        “Material support“ to domestic or foreign terrorist groups, even if that “support” intends to offer peaceful alternatives to conflict through humanitarian aid.

        Public speech made in the conduct of their duties by public employees. The law distinguishes between what an employee says as a private citizen, and statements made as part of the person’s job responsibilities. Your employer, however, does NOT have to make any such distinction. In many states, you can get fired for making statements as a private citizen that your employer finds objectionable. Some regulations (such as FINRA, HIPAA, FERPA, and SEC rules for insurance, financial services, health care, education, and brokers) make no distinction between what a person says as a private citizen and what they say as part of their job.

        Slander, libel or defamation. There are many, many nuances here — and the rules are different depending on whether or not the injured person is a public or private figure. Context matters, too, and so does whether the words used are an opinion (usually, but not always, protected) or factual statement (not protected unless the facts are provably true — and proving the truth is often far more costly and difficult than you might think).

        Publishing confidential, trade secret, or copyright material.

        Lastly, True THREATS. If someone says they will kill you, then brandish a weapon, or then makes a move…. Yeah, that’s not protected.

        Far too complicated to get into the nitty gritty of it all, but it is clear that you BLATANTLY have no understanding of the first amendment.

        The thing about this is, they don’t even want to allow them the freedom of their first amendment to display two flags, one being a piece of american culture and the other being a sign of support for our next president. The only thing wrong that is going on, is that the school district is purposefully looking for a way to keep Trump out of their agenda.

  • steve

    What kind of chant would they replace it with? “Kiss our butts”? “Go to hell”? When is the political correctness bullshit going to stop? Personally, I don’t care to hear it because of the monotonous tone, but if an individual or group decides to use it, so be it.

    • Edward Pardon

      So you would be ok with someone chanting “You suck ass” at your high school athlete?

      Just because they are hiding it behind an acronym doesn’t make it ok.

      • steve

        Edward, according to the article, the writer has heard that USA means something, not that they’ve actually used the words. Read the article carefully. They probably do mean it, but ……

      • USA

        Hey edward, “USA, USA, USA.” I really mean YOU SUCK ASS.

        Did you survive my vicious attack? Now run to your school board and ask them to protect your hurt feelings from big bad nasty monsters like me. You’re an embarrassment. Oops, probably hurt your feelings again.

      • RyanDoctrine

        Edward? Don’t you understand that that is the point? It is not up to some bullshit conference commissioner who was likely a draft dodging pot smoking pinko communist scumbag, to INTERPRET what others say and then decide that it is offensive. See what I did there? I interpreted (I have every right to interpret what others say in any manner I desire to) the moral character of someone based not on their actions but on their intent. Same as Haskins did in his published reason for his decision. First and foremost this “conference” is a conference of public schools that makes Mr. Haskins a public official. Public officials at all levels of government from Federal right on down to town councils and public school sports conferences are bound to uphold the constitution. They act as a state actor (research color of authority). When state actors make unilateral decisions like this they must do so in a manner that ensures that they do not trespass against the constitution. In other words because he is a public official and is enforcing a policy that affects both students faculty and parents he is subordinated to the constitution. He must not act in contravariance to the principles of law established in the constitution. The very first individual principle outside the scope of the articles of the constitution is this: Congress (and by extension of the 14th amendment this applies to ALL government entities including public school football conferences) shall make no law (law rule regulation policy or edict) respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging (curtailing, shortening editing) the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        Long and short of it is The conference has overstepped its authority and the commissioner of this conference should be punished for the infraction. Up to and including termination or recall.

    • Jack Kramer

      I agree 10 fold, I am an ARMY veteran and the ignorance of this school district is astounding to me. This news station seems to becoming like news 8 agreeing with these ignorant ideas!
      Jack Kramer
      Wyoming, Michigan

  • keith

    Name 1.. just 1 “white supremacist” group that has adopted a Betsy Ross flag?
    Your stated this as a fact in your article without sourcing it. You didn’t even ascribe it to an interview, so you must have a source for this fact.

      • aphelion27

        I’m not sure about that since the statement is in a separate paragraph from the one that is being attributed to Jim Haskins.
        I presented no facts to get straight. I was requesting sources. If it was Jim making the assertation then the article was unclear about attributing it to him.

  • Rick

    I will chant “USA” whenever I want, wherever I want, and to whomever I want. Nothing anybody can do about it. These fans should use their strength in numbers to stick it to this Haskins hack.

  • Erica

    This violates our personal rights that our great Nation was founded on. We as citizens of the United States have a right to show our pride for our Nation. This is a matter of Parents not teaching their spoiled kids to be respectful of our Nation, our Soldiers, and other people in general. Twenty years ago this would never have happened because parents raised their children differently. I was raised to be respectful of other people, to be tolerant of other peoples beliefs, and to respect our great Nation and the Soldiers who defend it. We have become a Nation of spoiled rotten, easily offended, intolerant morons. If we want to make American great again, this has to stop. Take personal responsibility for your children.

  • Charles Buck

    Good job OK Conference. Thank you for standing up and restoring American tradition to HS football in the one instance around the country where it sadly needed to be restored because a few misguided attention-seeking individuals succumbed to small-minded partisan politics that have no place in a taxpayer-financed stadium. Don’t drag American HS football down to the level of the political scrum. Make them pay to rent a hall to carry on their unsportsmanlike foolishness. God bless America! Go Team!