A Controversial Way to Keep Your Sports Parents in Line


Dealing with sports parents is one of the hazards of being a youth sports coach. Most parents are great; they are friendly, helpful, get their kids to practice on time, help set up the field, have a positive attitude no matter what, and more. We love those sports parents! But no team is immune from “those” sports parents that coach from the sidelines, get into it with the officials, pick fights with other parents, scream at the kids, and so forth. Hopefully a quick word or two is all it takes to get one of those parents to calm down, but some parents need a much harsher approach in order to “get it.” Some coaches have developed a rather controversial way to keep aggressive sports parents in line.

Robert Ramsay, a soccer coach at CCV STARS in Peoria, AZ, has a pretty strict policy describe the imageregarding parents’ behaviors and how it effects his players.

…My policy: Parents cheer positively from the sideline. Absolutely no coaching, cussing, or engaging referees from the sideline.

If I hear it, I text my team manager on the sideline and he tells the parent to shut up. (The manager reiterates this is from me, the coach, emphasizing my displeasure and deflecting any heat away from the manager.)

Second time I hear it, their child gets pulled out. This child goes to her parent and tells them she isn’t playing because of her parent’s mouth. Child does not go back in until parent acknowledges mistake and promises to shut up.

If it happens again, this game or next, child is suspended indefinitely, Period. This parent will have to find a way to make me believe they can hold up their end before their child plays again…

It turns out Ramsay isn’t the only coach around who punishes players in order to teach the parents a lesson, even if that lesson has nothing to do with how a parent behaves on the sidelines. One Little League coach benched a player after his mother failed to show up for her scheduled shift at the league snack bar for the second time. Parents that agree to work the snack bar are held to that agreement, and just like a player that misses practices has to sit out the next game, if the parent misses their shift their kids doesn’t play.

Another coach admitted that if a parent makes a rude/snarky comment about a player on the team, that parent’s child is benched for the next game. This was done in order to protect the players from getting harassed (even if it done on the sidelines) by other parents after making a mistake.

The third baseman on his daughter’s team missed a grounder that was hit toward her. As the ball rolled into the outfield the second baseman’s mother, who was sitting in the stands, shouted:  

“Ugh, she’s terrible! Terrible! She hasn’t made a play all day! C’mon, this is ridiculous!”

The third baseman heard this woman’s declaration and started to cry. Poor kid. I can’t even imagine what I would have felt — or done — if it were my kid she were yelling at. Or even if I’d been there at all. It’s so awful. So upsetting. So uncalled for. Clearly the coaches thought so too. After the game they held a parent meeting and shared a new rule: “If any parent makes a negative comment about a player’s performance that person’s child will be suspended for the next game.”

Have you ever punished a player to teach their parent a lesson? Do you think it’s an effective approach or does it just make things worse between the parents and the coach?