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Mandatory Parent Training: The Only Way to Improve the Youth Sports Sidelines

Teaching Respect For Officials

Parents also need to be taught to appreciate the job done by those who officiate at a youth sports event. Usually, they are adult volunteers or poorly paid officials from an official's organization. Many organizations, like soccer, also use youth refs, who are just learning the art of officiating. Without a constant infusion of new refs and umpires, there may be a shortage of officials, which, in turn, may lead to some kids not being able to play. Unfortunately, the number one reason that youth refs quit officiating is the abuse they receive from parents on the sidelines.

Mandatory training also allows the league to educate the parents about the league's expectations of behavior. Most parents want only good things for their children. When parents find out that their behavior can negatively affect the performance of their children, they will often change for that reason alone. If the league does not set standards for parent behavior, then parent's behavior will move to the lowest level that the game environment will allow. Parents want to know what is expected of them. When parents know they will likely comply, benefiting both themselves and their children.

Mandatory Training Empowers Parents

When parents become trained, they become a very powerful force for positive change. When they see problems, like coaches being abusive or cheating, they are more likely to report it to a league official. The first year after training began in El Paso, a significant number of football coaches were the subject of parent complaints and were later relieved of their duties because of their abusive coaching styles.

The positive changes become infectious, spreading from parent to parent. In the past, the sidelines have been full of negative contagion. Parental behavior deteriorates because, as parents became more verbally and physically abusive, no one is willing to step in to stem the tide and it thus continues to spiral out of control, sometimes with disastrous results.

Youth Sports And Pro Sports: Polar Opposites

All too often, the behavior of parents mimics that of fans at professional sports contests, where people think that the ticket they buy gives them the right to abuse players, coaches and officials. In the professional venue the negative behavior is often fueled by alcohol consumption.

However, in the youth sports venue just the opposite can occur. When parents understand that their behavior can positively influence their child's team, they will work hard to keep it positive. They will work at not alienating the game officials. The positive energy of the sideline will continue to work for positive play on the field.

When parents feel empowered in a positive way, the sideline environment will be healthier and happier.