Are Coaches Too Busy Playing Good Cop?

2014-01-30T16:55:19-05:00Coaching, Sports Management|

Ann Santana, an operational recreation supervisor, made a great comment on LinkedIn the other day in a discussion about parents playing the blame game in youth sports;

I would say about 40% of our job being recreators in a facility is playing police man…Believe me those kids are just as much as horrifed by their parents behavior if not more so.

While there are plenty of coaches who place too high a price on winning at all costs, plenty ofAre Coaches Too Busy Playing Good Cop? sports parents are equally guilty. When a call doesn’t go their child’s way how many sports parents start yelling at the officials from the sidelines? How many blame another player, the coach’s choice in play, or some other outside factor? And when that happens the good coaches know they have to run interference between parents and officials, or even parents and other parents. A good youth sports coach does everything they can to keep this game about the players, about learning new skills and having a good time. Angry and aggressive parents can ruin that atmosphere in a heartbeat.

Good coaches are constantly running interference when “those sports parents” start acting up. It’s hard enough trying to manage a dozen 8 year olds, keep practices interesting, give equal playing time as possible to all the players, and more, but when you throw a handful of aggressive parents coaching and arguing from the side line into the mix a youth sports game can turn very disastrous very fast. With some coaches sitting on a powder keg of parents are they too busy worrying about what the parents might do than what is going on with the kids? It’s certainly possible. How many youth sports coaches out there have had to spend more practice/game time worrying about the parents over the kids?

Another recreation coordinator pointed out;

In our youth flag football league, we have countless parents who set horrible examples by criticizing referees from the bleachers, and have even had others instruct their kids to openly play outside of the rules because they want to win above all else.

Good coaches have to work against those parents and try to keep control over the team. What is a young athlete to do when their parents say one thing and the coach says another? Who are they supposed to listen to? Who are they supposed to emulate? When parents act up on the sidelines it not only forces coaches to act as good cop, it also puts their children in an uncomfortable position.

Another commenter pointed out that “It doesn’t help that many sports analysts and sports talk “experts” often bash officials unfairly even though they have never officiated.” Sports parents watch professional games and listen to the sports commentators and coaches losing their minds over a bad call. Monkey see, monkey do, right? After all, the way we act is how our kids learnt to behave in the world around them. It’s easy to make comments on the sidelines when you have instant replays judging every angle of the call. It’s a totally different situation when you are physically at home plate trying to decide if a runner stealing second is safe or out.

Officials are people, they aren’t perfect. Sports parents, please don’t force your coaches to act as good cop on the field.