A letter to Sherman Independent School District parents this week about new rules for football games caused a social media storm among high school students concerned about the rules’ impact on their ability to show school spirit. Administrators, however, said the goal of rules is the opposite.

A letter to Sherman Independent School District parents this week about new rules for football games caused a social media storm among high school students concerned about the rules’ impact on their ability to show school spirit. Administrators, however, said the goal of rules is the opposite.

“We noticed that we have students that are loitering in the common areas during the game and not in the stands cheering on the team,” Sherman ISD Assistant Superintendent Tyson Bennett said. “We want to make sure there are guidelines in place so that whenever students are in the common area while the game is going on, we’re asking them to move along and get into the stands so they can be in the appropriate place to share their school spirit and cheer on the football team.”

The letter says the district will be implementing new student guidelines for Sherman High School football games will begin Friday at the homecoming game against Lovejoy High School.

Although the letter states that high school, middle school and intermediate school students are affected by the new rules, Bennett said the rules were created in response to the behavior of younger students who are left unattended at the football games.

High school, middle school and intermediate school students are generally required to sit in separate sections in the general admission bleachers, the letter says. It also says that a monitor will give permission for students in the general admission section to visit the restroom, concession stand, go to their parent or depart the stadium.

There have always been SHS administrators monitoring the student section at football games, Bennett said. With the new rules, administrators will be added from Piner Middle School and Dillingham Intermediate School. By having separate campus sections, he said, administrators will personally know the students and it will be easier to address their behavior.

“We want to make sure that we’re doing our due diligence in having an environment that’s conducive for all patrons to watch the game and enjoy the game,” Bennett said. “We feel like it’s a potential safety hazard and we’re charged with making sure that we maintain safety at all school events.

“Any change takes awhile to get used to. … We expect after the Friday night football game, folks will see how the guidelines work within the confines of the game.”

SHS senior Matthew Cross first heard about the new guidelines Tuesday night after seeing an unofficial letter stating the new guidelines. Because the letter stated that students, regardless of where they’re sitting, will be asked to remain in their seats, Cross said, SHS students thought they would no longer be able to show school spirit at football games.

“When we found that out and we decided that we needed to get it out there,” Cross, leadership chair of pride and patriotism, said.

Cross is one of two students who run the Twitter account “Maroon Madness,” which is where information was shared concerning the new guidelines for SHS football games. After tweeting some of his thoughts, Cross said he received responses of support from Denison, McKinney, Prosper, Howe and Pottsboro students.

The Twitter account was used to promote a “sit-in” Wednesday morning and a petition for school spirit, Cross said. Several copies of the petition were passed around the SHS cafeteria and the group received more than 100 signatures in 30 minutes, he said.

Though administrators were unhappy with the efforts to change the new guidelines, Cross said, students did not receive detention or suspension for their participation. He said students were encouraged to speak with administrators before voicing their concerns on social media.

“We were going to sit there until someone listened,” Cross said. “Yes, we feel like we were heard. We feel like we got what we wanted. We don’t have to sit at the games.”

Cross was unable to participate in the sit-in because he attended an emergency meeting for his leadership class. There, he said, SHS Principal Peggy Van Marter told students the new guidelines were not meant for high school students. He said students were told that the rules only affected middle school and intermediate school students. Van Marter declined to speak to the media Wednesday afternoon.

If high school students do not need to worry about the new guidelines, SHS senior Hannah Smith said, students were confused as to why they received the letter. Smith, who is also a member of the leadership class, said she believes SHS students overreacted to the new guidelines. She did not participate in the sit-in.

Smith said she thinks it is a good idea to separate the younger students and make sure they sit in their seats during football games but believes the letter could have stated the expectations clearer.

Despite the high emotions, Smith said her classmates are full of school spirit and will make the best of the situation.