Prospect Communication's Youth Sports Blog - "Taking You Beyond the Game!", features our own articles and commentaries that deal specifically with youth sports. Browse the site to read any articles that may be of interest to your sports organization. The articles are copyrighted to the authors (Michael Langlois & Mary-Louise Langlois) and they may not be reproduced without permission. To inquire about licensing the right to reproduce any of the site's content please contact us at inquiries@prospectcommunications.com

Prospect has a unique and specialized approach to communications skills and issues management geared towards those involved with youth and minor sports. Michael and Mary-Louise's work in this area is ideal for parents and coaches who want to make the most of children's involvement in sports.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Irate soccer mom brings game to screeching halt"

First published on prospectcommunications.blogspot.com - Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Irate soccer mom brings game to screeching halt

It’s not as though we have never seen this type of headline before.

But the particular details—a youth soccer game in July of this year involving kids under the age of 8, with a 14-year old referee—reflect a kind of “over-invested” attitude that many of us, as parents, need to address.

In this particular instance, a mother and father of a young player were charged with assault against the young referee.

By all accounts the local soccer Association dealt with the matter promptly and effectively. But after all the public discourse on the subject of parents fighting with coaches, referees, and other parents, we wonder: why does this kind of thing still happen?

While these “events” are not exactly common, they aren’t quite rare, either. Those of us who have stood on the sidelines at a soccer or baseball game, or in a rink at a youth hockey game, can readily attest that the emotional heat gets turned up pretty quickly, and way too often.

Any number of things can flip the switch—a young player who is perceived to be playing “dirty”; a coach who does not play a particular child as much as another player; a referee’s decision; a comment by a parent on the “opposing” team, and many other things.

All these are triggers, and because this generation of parents is so invested in our kids, it sometimes takes very little to get certain individuals going.

Those of us involved in the sports world, including the youth sports field, have made numerous suggestions over the years as to how this type of behaviour can be at least somewhat mitigated. For example, I wrote very widely published articles within the last two years on the subjects of “Soccer Sideline Etiquette” and “Hockey Rink Etiquette” for parents. The articles were overwhelmingly well received by sports organizations across Canada and the United States, but any of us who have written on this or similar subjects recognize that it’s not an easy problem to “solve”.

Many years ago minor hockey officials in Canada developed ad campaigns encouraging parents to take their kids to the rink to watch them play. The message was simple: spend time with your kids. A few years and many incidents later, officials encouraged parents to drop their kids off at the local rink—a clear indication that things had changed and that hockey officials now believed that parents served best as taxi drivers than as a loud, argumentative presence setting horrible examples from the stands.

It must be human nature: we all (or at least most of us) seem to think our kids are “better” than the other kids; deserve more playing time; always receive the bad end of referees’ decisions; are the ones that spend more time listening to other parents complaining than we complain ourselves.

Most of us would really benefit from actually looking in the proverbial mirror, and assessing if we contribute to the problems that often surface in youth sports. We may not be the person who harasses a 14-year old referee, but if we help create a toxic atmosphere on our son or daughter’s youth team, we are contributing to the problems that create the unhappiness that leads to these totally unacceptable outbursts.


Michael Langlois, founder of Prospect Communications Inc., is the author of the book, “How Well Do You Communicate? A Guide to Better Communication with Players and Parents for Minor (Youth) Soccer Coaches”. Prospect’s web site is located at http://www.prospectcommunications.com/. This article is copyrighted to the author and may not be reproduced without obtaining written permission. To inquire about licensing the right to reproduce any of the enclosed content email: inquiries@prospectcommunications.com

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