One Coach’s Genius Response to a Rude Parent

Photo: Shawn Rossi/Flickr
Photo: Shawn Rossi/Flickr

My son recently joined a travel soccer team. It’s a new, small program but I'm still nervous about how intense it's going to be — both on the field and on the sidelines

. My number one worry: The parents. Not this particular group of parents (they seem lovely) but youth sports parents in general. I know how much more hardcore things have gotten since my day and temperatures just seem to rise around competitive sports — even those being played by the U8 set. A new friend and I were discussing this and he relayed this little gem that took place at his 11-year-old daughter’s softball game. The third baseman on his daughter’s team missed a grounder that was hit toward her. As the ball rolled into the outfield the second baseman’s mother, who was sitting in the stands, shouted:  

“Ugh, she’s terrible! Terrible! She hasn’t made a play all day! C’mon, this is ridiculous!”

The third baseman heard this woman’s declaration and started to cry. Poor kid. I can’t even imagine what I would have felt — or done — if it were my kid she were yelling at. Or even if I’d been there at all. It’s so awful. So upsetting. So uncalled for. Clearly the coaches thought so too. After the game they held a parent meeting and shared a new rule: “If any parent makes a negative comment about a player’s performance that person's child will be suspended for the next game.” Boom! I seriously think that’s the best youth sports policy I’ve ever heard. And I bet it will help keep that woman’s mouth shut for the rest of the season.

I’ve done a lot of research on the risks and rewards of youth sports and the dangers of pushing kids and having them specialize in one sport too soon. I’ve even written about coaches behaving badly. But I haven’t really delved into the damage parents can do just by their so-called cheering. Perhaps I should. Here’s hoping I don’t have any juicy anecdotes to share from my son’s sidelines this fall!

So, what do you think about this rule? Too harsh? Have anything like this on your kid’s team? Ever witness any crazy behavior by parents on the sidelines? Do tell!