Anger & Violence in Youth Sports
Over the years I’ve witnessed many parents, grandparents, family members and young athletes going over the top in regard to poor behavior in youth sports.
Parents coming out of the bleachers to curse out an official, parents forcing their kids to do push-ups for poor performance, parents being banded from school property, and we all have heard the tragic stories of parents and officials being injured and/or dying from results of confrontations.
How can this happen we ask?
For many involved the combination of youth, sports and parents works great in promoting and developing a positive experience for youth. It can be a great environment for learning life skills and preparing our youth for their future. Unfortunately for some this experience is anything but positive and in some cases dangerous.
Youth sports programs are a wonderful way to create great memories that everyone will look back on for the rest of their lives. Every young athlete deserves to play in healthy program that isn’t plagued by foul-mouthed, ill-mannered parents whose ridiculous behavior would not be tolerated in any other part of society.
Parents want, and deserve, the very best for their children involved in youth sports. But it seems once scoreboards, championships and all-star teams enter the picture, the world of organized youth sports can become a violent place. Parental motives suddenly become skewed, the reasons for participating are lost, and reasonable behavior can turn into violence. And the children are the innocent victims.
There are probably many reasons the experts can tell us why violence or out of control behavior happens today in youth sports. Bottom line is there is no reason good enough. Mistakes will happen on the court, the game may get called unfair, contact between players, but whatever the situation it is no grounds for anyone involved to turn violent.
To keep parental sideline and player aggression in check, parents will need self-control and discipline for themselves and their athletes. Parents need to set a positive influence prior to, during and following the game. If a hot headed individual can’t control themselves then the organization MUST do it.
How To Keep Under Control
1. The youth league president or organizer must take charge of this, not only for the sake of the youth playing and observing but also for the coaches who are on the receiving end of poor behavior. Most adults even dislike listening to another adults screaming out cursing or ridiculing.
2. Communication and expectations is the key. Have a pre-season meeting and hand out and communicate the Code of Conduct with ALL what you consider inappropriate behavior. Players, parents and coaches must be on board with this and challenge each other to be their best.
3. Have players, parents and coaches sign a Code of Conduct/sportsmanship rules so everyone involved in the sport is responsible for themselves. Define what the consequences are and ensure that everyone understands when the line from aggressive play to violence has been crossed. All participants MUST sign this Code of Conduct agreeing to the rules. Parents and coaches need to be an example of good sportsmanship for young players.
4. Enforce the Code of Conduct (consequences) to make it clear that you don't tolerate inappropriate behavior or violence. When ALL participants realize that their actions have consequences that may affect their future, violence can be prevented. You need to make sure that consequences are more than a slap on the wrist in order to stop participants from engaging in poor behavior. We all know parents who can get out of control, never allow them to use their aggressive behavior to intimidate someone.
5. Teach the athletes sportsmanship by emphasizing that a sport should be enjoyable and that the outcome of the game isn't the most important aspect. It is a learning process and if mistakes are made by officials, coaches, etc. it is ok just focus on your skills. Also encourage players to avoid behavior like heckling their opponent.
Good luck with your game,
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