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Parents at Soccer Games: SHUT UP!

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For the record -- I did not play sports as a kid, but now that I have a kid who loves soccer, I'm learning.

Young boy heading soccer ball as family watches

Single Mom Seeking: Yes, I know what a "forward" and a "sweeper" are. But what I still don't get is this: the dads who scream at their kids from the sidelines.

Mike Woitalla -- who coaches youth soccer in Northern California and is also the executive editor of Soccer America -- says that "screaming at children playing soccer" is "absurd."

In fact, it is "just as absurd as shouting at them while they're on the playground ('Climb faster!') or drawing in a coloring book ('Use the red crayon!')."

And it's not just about the guys, apparently.

"Men tend to be the worst offenders, but I see plenty of moms making a racket at youth soccer games," Woitalla says. "Like the men, they often rationalize their screaming by considering it cheering. But screams such as 'Go, go, go!' or 'Go get 'em!' can be equally as distracting for young players as more specific instructions."

So, what should a parent do if he/she is next to one of these "screamers"?

"If an adult at a birthday party was screaming, 'Hit that #&$^%@# piƱata!" I'm guessing other parents would ask him to stop swearing in front of the children," Woitalla says. "And the same should happen at a youth soccer game.

"First of all, it's the coach's job to outline the basic guidelines of sideline behavior for parents -- no coaching, no screaming, no calling the players by name during the game (which distracts them). Then the coach should appoint a parent to serve as a sideline monitor, who politely reminds the parents when they cross those lines."

After all, what's soccer really about? Playtime for your children, says Woitalla. "Unfortunately, our children are granted far less adult-free playtime than previous generations, and the pickup game has become a rarity. Soccer, because it is a safe, simple game, can serve as a substitute for the free play that today's children are being denied -- if adults learn to keep their mouths shut."

next: Jaycee Dugard Opens Up After Her Ordeal
7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous October 14, 2009, 5:57 AM

same thing happens at t-ball! it drives me crazy! one kid was swinging and a mom actually screamed “what kind of swing is that?!?!”

anonymous October 14, 2009, 7:24 AM

With 7 kids that have played/do play soccer, believe me, I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen two moms get into a fistfight, I’ve seen utter hysteria toward referees, I’ve seen referees have to get escorted off the fields to their cars, I’ve seen parents thrown out of games and made to leave the parking lot. I’ve actually seen one whole team’s stands of parents made to leave because nobody would tell the ref who yelled “one down, 10 to go” when an opposing team player got hurt. Having been in soccer so long, I’ve observed that the rabidness used to be reserved for the high school level, but now that my 7 year old is playing ayso, the parents there are astonishing. I keep thinking that if they get this bent out of shape at a little kid’s game, they’ll have a heart attack when they get to the upper levels.

chris October 14, 2009, 8:35 AM

My kids have played sports (soccer, basketball, football, baseball) for many years and I too have seen a lot! I don’t mind the cheering but some people yell the whole game. Right now, my son plays high school football and we have two women who yell and scream and cheer the entire game. We try to sit as far away from them as we can because it completely gets on my nerves!

Marie October 15, 2009, 11:12 AM

Believe it or not the mother of the my nephew once screamed at him at a baseball game that “he better get a good hit or she would get rid of the cat.”… He was about 8 at the time. My jaw dropped and everyone got quiet all of a sudden. Of course, everyone hates her anyway…for obvious reasons.

Denise October 26, 2009, 8:39 AM

My son plays soccer and loves it and so do I. I cheer him on and all of his team mates. Never do you tell them to do something different - your are not out there. Give them support and happy cheers. The parents that also drive me crazy are the ones that don’t pay attention at all or just sit there as if this is conflicting w/ the rest of their day. Our kids need encouragement.

John November 3, 2009, 2:31 PM

I added your blog to bookmarks. And i’ll read your articles more often!

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