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Have Your Say: Should Parents in the Stands Stay Silent?

South Carolina men’s basketball coach Frank Martin is not the strong, silent type. His postgame tirade about officiating in a February game against Florida cost him $25,000. But when Martin goes to watch his own kids play, he is on his best behavior. He knows the game is about the players and their coaches, and the officials are in charge. He has seen parents cross that line before.

Martin elaborated on his position at a March press conference:

“Criticizing every decision the coach makes? Yelling at the kids, like the kids — they’re 10 years old, man! Like if they're a LeBron James and Dwyane Wade playing in the NBA Finals, like they know how to handle their coach over here and their parent over here yelling at them. Then we wonder why kids get confused man, why kids rebel, why kids don’t know how to listen. How can you listen when you’ve got so many voices in your head at the same the time?”

To combat this, some youth sports organizations have demanded that parents and other attendees remain silent. Some have even proposed banning parents from youth sports entirely. But is that going too far? Is bad behavior just the result of a few bad apples? Should all parents be punished just because of that?

What’s Your Take?

Take 1: Parents Should Be Seen and Not Heard

Not only is it disrespectful to officials and coaches, parents voicing their concerns at a youth sporting event can be embarrassing or damaging to their son or daughter. Kids have enough pressure on them as it is — particularly if they’re playing at more advanced levels of the sport. Knowing their parent can blow up at any time, even if it’s not directed at them, can be too much to handle. For these reasons, parents should cheer on their kids at games, but that’s it. If they can’t handle that, then they should not attend.

Take 2: Parents Are Coaching Their Kids, Too

At lower levels of youth sports, the coaches are volunteers, and the officials are often beginners. If a parent sees their son or daughter being mistreated or poorly instructed, he or she should feel free to jump in respectfully. The coach may be in charge of the team, but if a child’s wellbeing is at stake, then that remains a parent’s responsibility. Further, nobody should infringe on the rights of parents to see their children play.

What do you think? Should parents “sit down and shut up”? Or should coaches expect the parents of their players to voice their concerns? Have your say in the comments below.

From GameChanger and Todd Kortemeier

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coaching advice, Youth sports, ethics in sports, parents, high school sports, amateur sports, Coaches and Parents, sport parents, have your say