LEXINGTON -- Jerry Snodgrass is the Pied Piper of sportsmanship for Ohio high school athletics. He has the mileage to prove it.
The executive director of the Ohio High School Athletic Association was more than happy to accept an invitation from students to join the Lexington High School cheering section on Friday night during a basketball game against Ashland.
The Upper Sandusky native, who launched the Golden Megaphone competition four years ago as an OHSAA assistant director, said he feels a responsibility to promote sportsmanship.
In 2014, Snodgrass helped create a contest called the “Battle for the Golden Megaphone,” with the goal to promote sportsmanship and positive school spirit from the fans in the increasingly popular student cheering sections at basketball games across the state.
The winner of the contest will receive a banner, recognition by OHSAA at the state boys basketball tournament and an award for its athletic department.
"I am a social media guy. I follow all of their students' sections. All of these student (sections) have Twitter accounts, so I follow them. Most of them will follow me back. We ask them to tag things (i.e., #GoldenMegaphone). Sooner or later, they invite me to a game. (Lexington students) invited me tonight," Snodgrass said.
"I am simply looking for their involvement. Once they do that, I am not looking for the loudest cheer or the loudest section," he said.
"I am also looking for the fact they are positive. I know they are on the edge at times. We are all across the board for that. I know they will be positive while I am there. I get that," Snodgrass said with a chuckle.
HAPPY HOST: Joe Roberts, athletics/activities director at Lexington and also OHSAA board president, said he was thrilled to have Snodgrass in his student section.
"What a great opportunity to have Jerry join us last night. Our student engagement with him was the example we try to set," Roberts said.
"I know Purple Haze was just as excited to have Jerry here as he was to be a part of our student section! Now, the mission is to earn the Golden Megaphone!" Roberts said.
Snodgrass stood in the front row of Lexington's student section on "Neon Night" for the entire game Friday night, talking to students and joining in the cheers.
"We wanted to really make a difference in the sportsmanship world. We felt if we started with the kids, the students, maybe we could set an example for the older group. I feel we have done that," Snodgrass said.
"Every time I see students, I am not their principal, I am not their athletics director, I am not their coach. I am a different voice. I represent so many different people," he said.
"I do believe we can do it one kid at a time, one school at a time, and we can start to make a difference with our adults," said Snodgrass, who worked as a teacher, coach and administrator at schools including Defiance, Morral Ridgedale, Bryan and Findlay, where he served for 25 years, including 16 as athletic director.
PEFECT TIMING: In the past year, there have been national news reports about high school referees leaving the profession or being reluctant to start officiating due to abusive fans -- largely parents and other adults.