Do you ever read a news article where you’re legit embarrassed that it’s a real story, a real thing and that this is something that happens on a widespread basis?
Honestly. Where are we as a society in North America, when our kids turn up to rinks and pitches to play their sport and it’s the parents who are getting reprimands and consequences.? Yet, that is exactly what is happening across the border with our neighbours to the South, to the point where South Carolina’s Youth Soccer Association has had to institute a ‘no cheering, no jeering,’ rule. It was so necessary to tell these parents to pipe down, that parents can’t even cheer their own kids starting September.
And let’s not point fingers at our U.S. counterparts and feel a sense of pride that it’s not us. It is us. I’ve seen it. If your kids play recreational or competitive sports, you’ve probably seen it too. My friend shared a story on her Facebook the other week of a parent losing it on the soccer field at the coach because his kid was given a penalty. The child is seven years old. The parent reacted like a 6-year-old. The coach he yelled at, was a parent volunteer. Get it together people!
In South Carolina, parents will get the boot from the field if they don’t smarten up and shut up. According to CNN, of the 1,200 referees in the state, over 500 are under the age of 17. In other words, almost half of the refs getting yelled at by parents, are kids themselves.
CNN went on to report that, while the number of kids wanting to play soccer continues to go up every year, the number of referees isn’t following suit.
“Those who’ve called it quits say the biggest reason is the heckling from spectators. ‘They don’t want to go out there for 20 bucks and get yelled at for an hour’,” Bob Correia, a 30-year soccer vet told CNN.
Is the answer a dead-quiet soccer field? That seems kind of depressing to this mom who loves screaming “Go Zach!” when my 6-year-old gets up to bat and enjoys cheering him on as he runs bases and yelling ‘good try!’ when he’s tagged out. Part of the fun of the game is being able to root for our kids. But if parents can’t control themselves, what is the answer? Security guards on site removing people every week?
What lessons do we want our children to learn when they are out in the field? I don’t think we want them to play in silence because their parents can’t be trusted to control themselves. But we certainly don’t want them to see 16-year-old coaches getting yelled at by a teammate’s mommy.
My kids are still young; my oldest is 8 years old. But I already see it. One mom stood behind a 6-year-old batter at my son’s game the other week, giving him a million pointers, yelling corrections at him, distracting the poor kid. When the coach tried to intervene and give his own pointers, she yelled back “I got this.” Then you coach the team! Otherwise, sit down.
These parents, the ones who would charge a field and yell at a teenager, need to remember that our kids are likely not heading to the FC or the NHL or the NBA. These games are supposed to be fun. The only thing less fun than not winning is having your parent humiliate themselves, and you, by losing their mind at the game.
Maybe quieting the field will stop the yelling, but it won’t teach anyone anything other than that. If adults can’t control themselves, someone will have to do it for them. It won’t speak to the root of the problem which is that parents at these games seem to forget rules of decorum and decency.
This isn’t about sports. This isn’t about competition. It’s about adults needing to act like adults so that their kids can be kids.