As an official I do a lot of youth ball and I can honestly say they (the kids) play for the fun and rarely do you hear anything about 1st place or their opponents. However, I never know what I’m going to get in the way of coaches while doing these games. Just the other day I had to stop the game only 5 minutes in to calm down the coaches. You try to reason with some coaches but their competitive drive hits these kids negatively in a lot of the cases. At this level, the kids are trying to learn the game; some of these guys think it’s the NBA.
I could go on and on, but won’t. Again, enjoy your articles.
Great insight Rick, you have hit the nail on the head. I have seen many games of many different kinds of sports where the kids’ energy, respect, and sportsmanship feeds off the adults.
I remember watching a game several years ago when the officials had to eject some out of control parents from the gym. It was too late as the damage had already been done. The kids had already learned that if the call doesn’t go your way, they have 2 responses:
1. Cry and complain, cause a scene, and demonstrate poor sportsmanship just like the adults modeled.
2. Get angry and continue to play with anger by pushing, shoving, elbowing and playing rough.
I remember watching a game where the parents came down on the floor to yell and scream at the referees. The high school aged referees (probably making minimum age) after taking several minutes of verbal abuse mustered up enough strength to kick the out of control parents out of the gym.
After the parents left, the tone in the gym completely changed. There was silence. Everyone had a sense that the fun was gone. It was a solemn place.
I remember watching a flag football game where the coach got so frustrated with his team that he came out on the field and stood behind his quarterback the rest of the game and barked out instructions yelling at his intimidated players incessantly. The kids were afraid to make a wrong move or miss a block or throw a bad pass. The game turned into the coaches “gig”. The fun dissipated the moment that coach stepped on the field.
As much as some parents and coaches don’t realize or refuse to see, their influence to make or break fun is immense. Once the fun is gone, the foundation of the game changes. Pressure, intimidation, and performance become the focus and the kids just lose out. When fun remains the goal, improvement and success naturally follow. Parents have the ability to cause good or harm in the youth sports experience.
So, “STOP IT” adults, and let the kids have their fun. You are not 10 anymore so let it go. Let the kids play and have fun… it’s their turn now.