MENU
component-ddb-728x90-v1-01-desktop

Sideline incivility: Parental pressure pushes kids to quit playing sports

Soccer balls. (Photo: WJLA file)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- A brawl off the basketball court. A screaming match near the soccer pitch. The threat of violence at a tee-ball game. Not by the players, who are kids, but by their out of control parents, presumably all adults.

{}

"Two coaches got into a confrontation in the middle of a tee-ball game, one guy says come out to the parking lot and I'll show you my gun," said John Engh, his eyes wide. "I witnessed that!"

Engh heads up the National Alliance for Youth Sports*, dedicated to tackling sideline incivility worldwide. The Alliance offers an on-line parent behavior program. Some leagues require it before children can play, and Engh says those sidelines have settled down.

"I think education is the key, letting parents and coaches know," said Engh. "Through the registration process, if there are negative actions, there are going to be consequences."

And not just for them.

"It's a shame to punish a kid for the actions of their parents," said Dan Ferguson, a sports director at the Arlington Soccer Association (ASA).

But that's the strongest incentive leagues have to get parents and volunteer coaches to behave. If they don't change bad behavior after being warned, they are not invited back to coach and their children aren't invited back to play.

ASA instituted less stringent measures in the last year to help rein in behavior off the field. When coaches submit game scores on-line, they also evaluate the opposing team's coaches, players, and fans. The information helps the league track bad apples, and confront them if necessary. ASA also organizes "silent soccer" one weekend a season. Parents and coaches are permitted to applaud, but not shout. Some people criticize the effort as "politically correct," but supporters notice something encouraging: the players’ voices can be heard for once.

"Your number one job as a coach is to have all your kids return because they loved it so much," said Ferguson.

Seventy percent of all kids ages 12 to 14 will quit all sports, and sideline behavior by parents and coaches is a top contributing factor to that unfortunate statistic. The screaming from the sidelines is also directed, not just at the children playing, but the teenagers refereeing.

"I can understand, 'Referee!'" Ferguson shouts in frustration. "But to confront a young person who's learning to ref, just as players learn to play, is not appropriate. What kind of example are you showing?"

Ferguson made an analogy to the classroom. Imagine if parents of students were allowed to sit in classes during the school year, he suggested, and openly confront and criticize their children, the students next to them, and the teacher trying to instruct. He also pointed out that coaches should take notes from teachers, who instruct all week long, but on test day, they sit down and are silent. Coaches, he suggested, should do the same. Treat practices as classroom time, and game day as test day.

"Kids don't need constant feedback," said Ferguson. "If someone is constantly barking orders and telling what to do, they actually don't remember as easily."

Derek Biss, a standout goalkeeper at George Washington University and former staff coach for DC Stoddert, told 7 On Your Side, he informs parents, at the beginning of the season, that if they are barking instructions from the sideline, he will take their child out of play until the yelling stops.

"I also encourage coaches to sit down during the game, rather than run like crazy up and down the sideline," said Biss. He believes a calm coach sets a tone that the game is 100% about letting the kids play, experiment, lead, and learn without adult interference.

Kids told US Youth Soccer that their top reasons for stepping out of sports include adult overemphasis on winning, coaches yelling aggressively, and negative feedback from parents.

Similarly, USA Football found reasons number one and two for young athletes to quit the game: parental pressure and pushing.

A full third of girls and boys explained to ESPN, the primary reason they quit? They're not having fun.

{}

{}(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

A sign at a sporting field in The Hunter Valley. Should we have these at all kids sport venues?

Posted on{}Saturday, June 6, 2015

*A full list of local sports organizations affiliated with the NAYS can be found here:

DCDC DEPT OF PKS & RECJOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLINGB&G CLUB OF GREATER WASHINGTON - Clubhouse #14B&G CLUB OF GREATER WASHINGTON - Clubhouse #6EAST OF THE RIVER COACHES ASSOCIATIONLANGSTON BOYS & GIRLS GOLF CLUBBEACON HOUSE COMMUNITY MINISTRY INC

MARYLANDANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE YOUTH SPORTSBALTIMORE CITY DEPT OF REC & PKSCALVERT CO PARKS & RECCHARLES COUNTY PKS & RECCITY OF GAITHERSBURGCITY OF ROCKVILLE PARKS & RECREATIONUSAG ABERDEEN PROVING GROUNDUSAG FORT MEADEANNAPOLIS NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITYOCEAN CITY REC & PKS DEPTREISTERSTOWN REC COUNCILST MARYS CO REC & PKS DEPTOLNEY BOYS & GIRLS COMMUNITY SPORTS CLUBSTEMBRIDGE FOOTBALL & CHEERLEADINGHARFORD COUNTY PARKS & RECREATIONUSAG FORT DETRICK CHILD & YOUTH SERVICESWORCESTER COUNTY DEPT. OF RECREATIONFREDERICK COUNTY PARKS & RECREATIONPOOLESVILLE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONROCKVILLE BASEBALL LEAGUENYFCL (National Youth Football & Cheer League)CROFTON ATHLETIC COUNCIL - SOFTBALL PROGRAMLA PLATA YOUTH SOCCER ASSOCSOUTHERN MARYLAND YOUTH ORGANIZATIONLA PLATA BLUE KNIGHTSST CHARLES BEARSEASTERN SOUTHERN SOCCER LEAGUEB&G CLUB OF METROPOLITAN BALTIMORE - Towanda Extension SiteB&G CLUB OF METROPOLITAN BALTIMORE - Webster Kendrick UnitB&G CLUB OF METROPOLITAN BALTIMORE - Brooklyn O'Malley UnitB&G CLUB OF METROPOLITAN BALTIMORE - O'Donnell Heights UnitDC BLUE DEVILSMARYLAND FBS CH ASSOCIATIONTURNER STATION RECWOODLAWN REC & PKSCAPITAL BELTWAY LEAGUEBANNEKER ATHLETIC CLUBCHARLES COUNTY DEPT OF PUBLIC FACILITIESPARKS & PEOPLE FOUNDATIONBRYANS ROAD SOCCER ASSOC

VIRGINIAALEXANDRIA REC DEPTALLEGHANY CO RECAMHERST COUNTY REC & PKS DEPTBEAVERDAM YTH LEAGUE, INCBOTETOURT CO REC DEPTCITY OF HAMPTON PARKS & RECCLARKE COUNTY PKS & RECDALE CITY SPORTS CLUBUSAG FORT BELVOIRUSAG FORT LEEFRANKLIN COUNTY PKS & RECFORT EUSTISGLOUCESTER ATHLETIC ASSOCGLOUCESTER PKS & RECHAMPTON TORNADOES YOUTH ASSCISLE OF WIGHT CO PKS & RECKING GEORGE COUNTY P/RLANGLEY AFBLOUDOUN COUNTYOCEANA NAVAL AIR STATIONNORFOLK REC & PKSRICHMOND CITY PKS & RECROANOKE CO PKS, REC & TOURISMSPOTSYLVANIA PKS & REC DEPTSTAFFORD CO. PKS & RECSUFFOLK DEPT OF PKS & RECTIDEWATER WOLVES FB & CH LEAGUETOWN OF WYTHEVILLEVIRGINIA BEACH PKS & RECVIRGINIA YOUTH FOOTBALL LEAGUEPOQUOSON YTH FB & CH ASSOCNORFOLK NAVAL STATIONQUANTICO MARINE CORPSCAMPBELL COUNTY PARKS & RECREATIONLITTLE CREEK JOINT EXPEDITIONARY BASEGOOCHLAND YOUTH ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONAMELIA PARKS & RECGLOUCESTER YOUTH FOOTBALL LEAGUECHESAPEAKE ATHLETIC ASSNBATH COUNTY PARKS & RECREATIONFSBL - FARMWELL STATION BASKETBALL LEAGUECHARLOTTE COUNTY YOUTH FOOTBALL LEAGUEOCEANA-MIDWAY MANOR NASLUNENBURG LIGHTNING YOUTH FOOTBALL INC.NORTHERN VIRGINIA YOUTH FOOTBALL LEAGUEHOPEWELL RECREATION & PARKSSHENANDOAH VALLEY YTH. FB & CH LEAGUECHRISTIANSBURG PARKS & REC. DEPT.USAG FORT MYER CHILD, YOUTH & SCHOOL SERVICESHAMPTON ROAD AMERICAN YOUTH FOOTBALL CONFERENCESOUTH COUNTY SPORTS CLUBNOTTOWAY YOUTH FOOTBALL ASSOCIATIONNORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD PORTSMOUTH VIRGINIALUNENBURG GIRLS' SOFTBALLGREAT NECK ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONDEER PARK YOUTH FOOTBALL & CHEERLEADING ASSOC.MARINE CORPS HQB&G CLUB OF SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA - Thurgood Marshall UnitB&G CLUB OF SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA - Roanoke Valley, Inc.B&G CLUB OF THE VIRGINIA PENINSULAB&G CLUB OF NORTHERN SHENANDOAH VALLEYJEB FORT STORYSTRASBURG MIDGET CHEERLEADING LEAGUEB&G CLUB OF THE DANVILLE AREAB&G CLUB OF HARRISONBURGWILLIAMSBURG YTH FB & CH LEAGUEABERDEEN ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONFOX HILL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONHAMPTON CAVALIERS ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONKAPPA CARDINALS ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONNORTHHAMPTON BRUINS ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONPHOEBUS NIGHTHAWKS ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONTYLER ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONWOODLANDS WILDCATS ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONY.H. THOMAS ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONBACK RIVER YTH SPORTS ASSOC.CAROLINE CTY PKS & RECDANVILLE PKS & RECHARRISONBURG PARKS & RECREATIONHENRY CO REC DEPT, VAORANGE CO PARKS & RECPOWHATAN REC ADVISORYROANOKE CITY PARKS & RECREATIONTOWN OF WEST POINT PKS & RECCITY OF FRANKLIN PARKS & RECREATION DEPT.FAUQUIER CO.PARKS & REC.YORKTOWN PATRIOTS FB & CHINNER CITY ATHLETIC ASSOCIATIONKING WILLIAM COUNTY PARKS & RECREATIONUNITED SPORTS ALLIANCECITY OF MANASSAS PARKS & RECREATION DEPT.NEW KENT PARKS & RECREATIONPITTSYLVANIA COUNTY PARKS & RECREATIONHIGHLAND COUNTY RECREATION COMMISSIONBOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF THE NORTHERN NECKURBAN SPORTS of VIRGINIAAMHERST DIXIE YOUTH BASEBALLDLH SPORTS YOUTH FOOTBALL & CHEER CONFERENCEEASTERN LOUDOUN BASKETBALL LEAGUEBOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF METRO RICHMONDB&G CLUB OF GREATER WASHINGTON - Hylton BranchB&G CLUB OF GREATER WASHINGTON - Culmore Character Club BranchB&G CLUB OF GREATER WASHINGTON - Murraygate VillageWINCHESTER PARKS & RECREATION

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off

Trending