Opinion: Sports parents need to chill out


WEBN-TV via Flickr

A fan, wearing a gray shirt and hoisting an American flag, cheers excitedly. Fans can be intense, sometimes to the point of ejection. “It’s generally directed towards officials but sometimes people complain about coaches and playing time,” said head varsity boys basketball coach Christopher Capannola. (Photo courtesy of WEBN-TV via Flickr).

Sam Mostow, Sports Editor

I am an umpire for a local Little League.  I officiate baseball games ranging in age between eight and twelve. The players are merely children, yet I hear the same calls from the parents every game.

“Keep your eye on the ball!”

“Make sure to follow through!”

“Rub some dirt on it!”

Parents clearly play a large role in youth sports. After all, they usually are the ones to introduce the sport to their child and encourage them to play at a higher level. But a lot of the time, parents can be rowdy and too passionate about their son’s or daughter’s activity, and that includes at the high school level.

“Speaking personally, while working as an [athletic director], I had a handful of experiences dealing with crowd behavior,” said Chris Robinson, Assistant Director of Athletics and a member of the sportsmanship committee for the Virginia High School League. “In most cases, spectators were upset over perceived incorrect calls. I encourage AD’s to indiscreetly address those concerns to not call attention to the person or persons you are dealing with. Usually, a nice request to be mindful of their comments solves the issue. We also made PA announcements prior to games asking fans to be respectful of both teams and the game officials.”

There have been numerous occasions of parents and other spectators passionately acting out at high school sporting events across the country. Which is fine, when this is positive and promotes the wellbeing of others. But when it turns negative or turns into personally attacking referees, opposing players, coaches, or opposing fans, it crosses the line.

During a state hockey playoff event in Massachusetts in 2012, Joseph Cordes directed a laser pointer in the eyes of the opposing goalie. In 2015, a Mississippi high school basketball coach was attacked by a parent and hospitalized. On another occasion in 2015, A Kentucky basketball coach was punched by a parent after a loss.

“It happens all the time,” said varsity head boys basketball coach Christopher Capannola. “Not every game, but there’s always someone on one side or the other that is berating officials or yelling. It’s generally directed towards officials, but sometimes people complain about coaches and playing time.”

Parents can be hard on coaches, players, and officials. Sometimes, their intensity can spread and go too far. Please remember that everyone is human and nobody is perfect. With that in mind, we can all experience sports for what they are intended to be: fun.