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The Gold Standard

Aug. 8, 2010

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Perhaps you wouldn’t admit it, but you’ve been around the miserable Georgia Tech fan.

You know the type, the guy who yells profanely while at the stadium, or maybe had too much to drink before the game. Who can forget some fans throwing debris on the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium in 2007 when Boston College was in the house?

That did not reflect favorably on the Yellow Jackets, and the powers that be in the Athletic Association want to eliminate that behavior.

That’s why Tech is out to set a gold standard of sorts; hence The Gold Standard.

The Institute has a new program by that very name, and fans can sign up to be part of the Georgia Tech Sportsmanship Initiative at The idea is to promote decorum without eroding the enthusiasm that fans bring to bear.

“It came out of looking at the college landscape and how fans and student-athletes and everyone reacts. Some fans take it too far in the way they root for their team,” said Kyle Shields, premium sales director in the AA’s department of marketing and promotion and the leader of the Gold Standard Committee. “Some fans think they have to act a certain way to create an environment that is difficult for opponents, but we don’t have to be mean.”

Tech hired an outside company last school year to assess the game-day experience, to basically go under cover to games and experience fans, concessions, rest rooms, all of it without announcing their presence.

“Part of what came back is we have some rude fans,” Shields said. “We took a hard look at that and said we don’t want to wind up in the paper for a negative incident so let’s nip this in the bud while we can because Georgia Tech has a strong tradition of strong character and high morals.”

The Gold Standard’s mission statement suggests raising awareness of sportsmanship at all Tech athletic events, “by increasing positive Yellow Jacket support; creating a sense of pride in Georgia Tech venues; events and traditions; promotion appreciation for the spirit of competition and providing a safe, healthy and respectful game day environment for all.”

The goal here ought to be evident. Tech loses if its fans act like losers.

Fans who sign up at no charge at and take a pledge can show their pride through their future behavior at Tech events. It’s a win-win deal.

“We don’t want this to go any further,” Shields said. “You’ve got kids jumping on the field at [Major League] baseball games and getting tasered, or passing out because they’re drunk. You have some schools doing breathalyzer tests. We don’t want to be that extreme, but at the same time a few years ago during the game against Boston College . . . that was pretty bad by Georgia Tech standards.

“This program was built as something that will last, a reminder that we’re trying to create a safe environment that supports Georgia Tech without booing the other team.”


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