*Updated 26th February 2023
Let’s set the scene:
Two academies of under-15 players engaged in a non-competitive football match.
As soon as the game began, there was a complete change in the atmosphere. The match was being overseen by a highly experienced referee, yet every decision made by the referee was met with intense criticism – an unusual occurrence for a non-competitive game. It became apparent that the criticism was not coming from the opposing coach or players, who were challenging decisions respectfully, as expected. Instead, the constant noise and criticism were coming from the opposition’s sideline. The referee admirably dealt with the situation by ignoring the distractions and allowing the players to continue playing. However, eventually, he voiced his concerns to the sideline, only to be met with a dismissive response: “Just get on with the game.”
As the game wore on, something truly remarkable began to unfold. The players on the opposing team were yelling, screaming, and even swearing at their own parents and guardians, begging them to just be quiet and let them play their game. It was clear that this constant interference was having a devastating effect on their performance, both physically and mentally and levels of enjoyment. At every opportunity, some parents were trying to take control of the game, directing their children from the sidelines and trying to see things through their own eyes. But the craziest thing was that sometimes the players would actually listen, only to make mistakes and be met with even more yelling and screaming.
This kind of behaviour not only completely ruined the atmosphere of the game but also had a real impact on the individual players, sapping their enjoyment and crushing their confidence. It was such a sad sight to see so much potential go to waste, simply because of the overbearing and misguided actions of a few parents. It was a powerful reminder of just how important it is to create a positive and supportive environment for young athletes, where they can learn, grow, and thrive without fear of judgment or interference from the sidelines. After all, the game is about the players, not the parents.
The scene was almost too much to bear. A young linesman, barely more than a kid himself, was doing his best to support the on-field officials and keep the game running smoothly. But every time he made a call, the noise from the opposite sideline was deafening. Parents were shouting and swearing at the poor boy, making him the target of their frustration and anger. “What’s he doing?” they screamed. “That was never f***ing offside!”. It was a disgusting display of aggression and intimidation, and it was being directed at a 15-year-old kid.
As the game wore on, it became clear that this kind of behaviour was completely unacceptable. One of the parents from our own team stepped up and took control, refusing to let the young linesman be subjected to any more abuse. And it made me wonder: why would anyone think it’s okay to scream and yell at a child, especially when they’re just trying to do their role and learn the game?
Imagine if we treated our colleagues or employees in the same way. Would we expect them to show up to work every day if they were being screamed at and cursed out on a regular basis? Of course not! It’s time we start treating young children involved in youth sports regardless of their role, with the same respect and dignity we would expect for ourselves.
Let’s create an environment where they can learn and grow without fear of abuse or intimidation from the sidelines.
The air was heavy with disappointment and sadness. The referee had seen enough, and he made it clear that he would be writing a report about what had happened on the field that day.
Both sets of coaches and referees looked defeated as if they’d seen this kind of behaviour from parents before. “It’s difficult to handle,” referring to the screaming and shouting coming from the sidelines. The referee promised that the Academy director would be informed about the unacceptable behaviour demonstrated by the parents that day.
But it wasn’t just the officiating team who were affected by this environment. Even the young children on the field were left feeling unsure and uncomfortable. How could they enjoy playing the game they loved when they were surrounded by so much negativity and hostility?
As the reality of the situation sunk in, it was clear that something needed to change. If parents continued to behave in this way, not only would referees be discouraged from taking part in games, but young children might also begin to question whether they wanted to participate in such an environment. It was a sad state of affairs, but hopefully, one that could be remedied with a concerted effort from everyone involved.
95% of the parents that were fantastic it was only the 5% of parents that ruined it.
Thank you – Diolch yn fawr
One thought on “Give me an example of an environment/job where this is accepted?”
A warning should be issued to the coach about unsportsmanlike behavior, a board member should attend games where there might be a problem. If the problem processed the coach should be yellow carded. Next step asking the problem parents to not come to the games. If they refuse there child will not play! Swearing at a referee is never acceptable. Allowing it sets the club up for loosing referees, setting a bad example for kids as well as possible liability issues!
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