A national survey of youth soccer officials finds the majority of parents are behaving as well or better at their kids' matches than they did two years ago.
While the survey by Korrio is promotional in nature — seeking to promote the company's web platforms for youth sports websites — it nonetheless is a kernel of good news that juxtaposes the occasional headlines about parents and coaches fighting at youth sporting events.
How would you describe the behavior of parents on the sidelines last season?
Excellent (no problems) — 11 percent
Good (one minor problem) — 58 percent
Fair (more than one problem) — 31 percent
Poor (bad behavior by majority of parents) — 0 percent
Has parent behavior improved, declined or stayed the same in the last two years?
Stayed the same — 54 percent
Declined — 20 percent
In some states, parents' behavior is evaluated by the referees. Through the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association's OATHS program, the referee scores the behavior of parents, coaches and players on a 1-5 scale after each game. Teams deemed by the referees to exhibit the best sportsmanship throughout the season are acknowledged and highlighted at season's end.
Having coached numerous youth sports, it seems to me that it is a bit easier for parents to stay calm during soccer — a game with free-flowing action that doesn't necessarily rise or fall on one call by a referee. Baseball? That's another matter. Balls and strikes, foul balls, and close plays at the plate all hinge on the discretion of the referee — and often I've seen parents lose their cool when calls don't go their kids' way at crucial moments. (I've never seen a fight, or even an argument, but certainly bad behavior that resulted in parents being warned or told to leave.)
Still, positive news has to start somewhere, and the modestly improving trends out of youth soccer offer encouragement for youth sports in general. But what do you think? Is parent behavior improving in your eyes? And let's hear it. What was the worst example of sportsmanship you witnessed, or committed?