Pact calls for pre-game handshakes
THS, Piper school administrators address ruckus at football game
When Tonganoxie and Piper meet next fall on the football field, the game will start the way this year's match-up was supposed to end -- with team players shaking hands.
Tonganoxie superintendent Richard Erickson, THS principal Tatia Shelton, Piper superintendent John Chapman and PHS principal Robert Runnebaum met last week to discuss incidents that unfolded during and after the Tonganoxie-Piper game Sept. 17 in Piper.
In a written statement sent to The Mirror, Erickson said:
"One way of promoting and ensuring sportsmanship, fair play and friendship at the football game in the future between Piper and Tonganoxie will be to encourage and expect athletes and coaches to shake hands and greet each other prior to the start of the game and to congratulate (win or lose) each other by shaking hands following the contest."
As is customary, players and coaches were supposed to meet to shake hands after the Chieftains' 17-14 victory, but tempers flared between the two sides and coaches moved players to their respective sidelines. Shortly after, coaches from both sides got involved in a shouting match. During the altercation, a Piper coach pushed Shelton.
For precautionary reasons, Tonganoxie players and coaches waited nearly a half-hour before leaving Piper with security escorting them from the Piper campus.
The junior varsity and freshman football games between the two schools scheduled the next week were cancelled, and Tonganoxie and Piper football players were instructed not to attend volleyball matches Sept. 21 in Piper where both schools were competing.
Chapman said he couldn't comment on any disciplinary actions of the school regarding the game.
However, the Piper superintendent said Rule 52 of the Kansas State High School Activities Association handbook, which pertains to sportsmanship and behavior, will appear in the school newsletter.
"It really speaks more of spectators," Chapman said.
Chapman also plans to publish the new Kaw Valley League sportsmanship code that league principals currently are working on.
In Erickson's statement, he mentioned there were differing views among the school administrators regarding the actions at the football game, but the administrators "acknowledge that there were mistakes made on both sides because of the emotional fervor of the contest."
Erickson also noted that administrators who met "agreed to make an earnest and good-faith effort in the future at both schools to promote and expect high standards of sportsmanship, fair play and friendship between athletes, coaches and fans of Piper and Tonganoxie."
According to Tonganoxie athletics director Brandon Parker, football is the only sport that has sparked hot tempers between Piper and Tonganoxie.
"I don't think there's any friction in any other sports," Parker said.
The football teams have had competitive games in the past, including another 17-14 decision -- a Piper win -- last year. Piper won in 2002 by a 7-0 score, while Tonganoxie won, 17-14, in 2001.
A Web site for Piper football not sponsored by the school referred to Tonganoxie as the "Cheatin' Chieftains." Chapman said the site originated six years ago when a then-Piper football player was a senior.
"I don't know whether it is there now," Chapman said. "I have seen a printout."