The Howard County Library System will hold its seventh annual Choose Civility symposium "The Ball's in Your Court: Can Civility and Sports Co-Exist?" from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, at the Miller branch in Ellicott City.
Korva Coleman of National Public Radio will moderate a panel discussion exploring teamwork, leadership, role models, sportsmanship and competition in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Joe Ehrmann, a former Baltimore Colts defensive lineman who is now a sports educator with Coach for America, a minister and the author of "InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives," will be the featured speaker. Ehrmann spoke at the first Howard County civility forum in 2008.
"This is such a hot topic, and it continues to be a topic that needs to be addressed," said Christie Lassen, the library's public relations director.
"I've been asked if something negative precipitated this event in Howard County, and the answer is no, there was no catastrophic event," she said. "Yet all of us have experienced incivility ourselves with fans and parents screaming at coaches and players, or have heard about it on the news."
The website ChooseCivility.org says, "Adult behavior exerts a profound influence on children's success in sports. It can make or break a student athlete's performance. Is the pressure to win, the competition for scholarship dollars, and mounting aggression on the court and field eroding the time-honored code of good sportsmanship?"
Ehrmann will be joined in a panel discussion by Amanda Visek, a sports psychology expert at George Washington University; Jeannie Prevosto, Mount Hebron High School athletics and activities manager; and Winston DeLattiboudere III, a student athlete from Howard High School.
There will be a question-and-answer session followed by a reception with panelists and a book-signing with Ehrmann.
The Choose Civility initiative was established in 2007 to build on the book "Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules for Considerate Conduct," written by P.M. Forni, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University. Forni participated in the third Howard County forum, Lassen said.
Thursday's event is presented in partnership with the Columbia Association, Girls on the Run, Howard County Youth Programs, Howard Community College, the Department of Recreation & Parks, the county public school system, the Baltimore Sun Media Group, the Soccer Association of Columbia, Special Olympics and Voices for Change.
For more information or to preregister for this free event, go to choosecivility.org.