Youth Soccer News: Parent Sideline Behavior Has To Get Better
John Napier got a red card as a parent. Yes, can you believe it? Read Napier's article as he speaks from experience and knows that parents and players can never win the war of words with "officials" on the field. So why should we set such a bad example for our children? One of 2012's most popular articles.
Parent Behavior: Which Country has the worst sports parents?
A few months ago I read an article about parent behavior at young players sporting events throughout the world. It was very interesting to look at the makeup of how this all came about. A survey was done in 22 countries, and 35% of adults had witnessed mostly verbal abuse, but sometimes physical abuse of parents towards players, officials, and other parents. This is for all sports, but it certainly is a problem in the sport we all love (soccer). This survey was conducted by Reuters: I was very shocked and sad to find the the most civilized country in the world was number 1 in this category.
The survey breaks down as follows: Top (worst) to bottom (best)
United States (60%) India (59%) Italy (55%) Argentina (54%) Canada (53%) Australia (50%) Spain (42%) Belgium (39%) Great Britain (37%) Sweden (35%) Germany (35%) South Korea (34%) Poland (34%) and Mexico (25%) ....
Over the last few months as a soccer coach I have tried to look at the big picture, I have observed parents as a coach, and as a spectator watching games, and as a scout looking at players.
I have witnessed verbal abuse to referees, I have seen parents get into it with other parents, and I have watched coaches get thrown from games because of parental behavior.
It seems we have totally gotten away from why we are here in the first place, to help our kids enjoy a sport that they love dearly. I have seen players tell their parents to be quiet (shut up). This is happening in all sports, both at the recreational and competitive levels. We all know at the professional level in countries where soccer is king that the spectators have totally gotten out of control, and bad things have happened, but to bring that into youth sports is absolutely ridiculous.
At this moment in time, our governing body of soccer Cal South has just over 100 administrators banned and suspended from youth soccer games in Southern California, including coaches, assistant coaches, and parents.
Pretty sad that we just can’t let the kids play, really that is all they want to do PLAY period! Why does it have to be like this, some people believe it is parents or coaches living their dream through their kids on the field, others believe we are just too darn competitive, whatever it may be it has to stop, we need to get back to the reality of the game being just another sport. Watch a game where 8/9/10 year olds are playing and then go watch a game where 17 year olds are playing. You will notice one big difference straight away; at the younger games you will have almost all the family watching including grandma and grandpa, supporting their child -- “which is great to see”.
At the older game, there will probably be no one. The older team boys or girls are more likely to have driven themselves to the games, and have long ago told their parents I don’t need you at the game! Sorry, but that is probably the reality especially on the boys side. It seems to me the younger the teams the more bad the behavior we have on the sidelines! There is nothing more embarrassing for a young player than to see their dad/mum be ejected from the field because of bad behavior.
It has happened to me, I will admit, I have told the story many times, I played 17 years as a professional player and got (1) red card, and only a handful of yellow cards, it is a pretty good record, and I am proud of it.
But I am not proud of the fact that I received two (2) red cards as a parent while watching my young son play thirty years ago. My son was around 10 years old at the time and really he did not understand, I was just a very competitive dad, and the referees were different then, soccer was still very young here.
I have learned with age, that you can not change decisions, by out bursts, it does not work, you turn referees against you and your team. You need to look at the big picture, 'mistakes will and are made on the field, by both players and officials, it happens every day even at the professional level.
One thing we all have in common on this earth, we all make mistakes, and mostly all the time not on purpose obviously. Relax, enjoy the game, cheer for your team and child, be supportive of all the kids on both sides. You will win and you will lose, just like in everyday life. We want all our young players to have a positive experience playing a sport, no matter which sport. Sports is a large part of our culture and a wonderful way for children to grow and mature in a team building situation.
Since receiving those two red cards, I have never been ejected from a soccer game where I have been coaching or as a spectator. I hope it never happens, I hope I have the self discipline to control my emotions towards officials. Parents and coaches do not realize that to keep bad mouthing the officials only hurts your team; you cannot win this war of words, EVER!
John Napier Girls 95 ODP Head Coach