Remember Parents, They’re Kids And It’s Just A Game

One of the biggest complaints in sports at the High School athletic events in Michigan is the behavior of the adults. As a sports reporter who travels all over the state and country, I get right up and close to the game and by doing that I see a lot of horrible actions. And over the years it has gotten worse and has reached epidemic proportions.

According to a recent national survey, more than 2,000 high school athletic directors were asked what they like least about their job and 62.3 percent said it was “dealing with aggressive parents and adult fans.”

And the referees agree. On the field and court, I talk with everyone so I get input from them and it’s sad. They’re just regular men and women who love sports and care about the kids yet they get so much hassle and hatred from the fans that almost 80 percent of officials quit after the first two years on the job, and rude and unruly parents are cited as the reason why. As a result, there is a growing shortage of high school officials here in Michigan, and in some sports like wrestling, swimming & diving and track & field, the shortage is severe. No officials mean no more games.

There has been a shortage of officials in the state for years. Why would you want to do a job where you follow the rules and enforce them only to have a parent cuss you out or worse yet, physically assault you. I’ve seen it. Grown men fighting because they didn’t agree with the call. Now, officials aren’t perfect, I’ve seen them make many mistakes, and being right up close you get a better angle and even a picture of the flaw. But no one is perfect! No one.

If you are a parent or anyone attending a high school athletic event ever, you can help by just following simple common sense and observing the rules of conduct.

  1. Act like an adult. Act in a civilized way that will make you and your family proud. Not just them, but your school and team. Make them all proud.
  2. Do not live vicariously through your kids. Yes, you were a big sports star in your little school possibly, or maybe you weren’t. That’s no reason to drive your kids and make them resent you and hate the game. Many kids would love to quit but keep playing because of their parents pushing them. Remember, High School sports are for the kids!
  3. Don’t criticize the other kids. Or their parents. They’re kids. Let them all play and have fun.
  4. Let your kids talk with the coach, not you. High school athletes learn how to become more confident, independent and capable — but only when their parents don’t jump in and solve their problems for them. 
  5. You’re the spectator! You don’t need to be coaching or officiating from the sidelines. Your role is to be a responsible, supportive parent — not a coach or official.
  6. Remember, most of these kids will never make it to college on a sports scholarship no matter how hard you wish for it.  According to the NCAA, only about two percent of all high school athletes are awarded a sports scholarship, and the total value of the scholarship is only about $18,000. And less than 1 percent will ever play professional sports.
  7. Let your kids know you are proud of them. And that you support them no matter what. I know parents that won’t go to their child’s soccer games because “it’s a sissy sport and boys don’t play it”. Seriously! Do not critique your child’s performance on the car ride home. Participating in high school sports is about character development, learning and having fun — not winning and losing.

When you purchase a ticket to a high school athletic event, it definitely does not give you the right to be rude, disrespectful or verbally abusive. Cheer loud and be proud, but be responsible and respectful. The future of high school sports in Michigan is dependent on you.