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Sep, 2021

Executive Director: Throwing a Flag on the Adults

Our friends at USA Hockey produced a great Public Service Announcement a few years back in which they implored parents to act like adults at their kids’ games and stop yelling at them from the stands. And their counterparts in Canada had a similar campaign. The spots perfectly capture the embarrassing and damaging behavior we see too often on the sidelines across youth sports. 

While there are far more examples of good sports parenting, the vocal minority is getting louder and more abusive.

Last week one of our leagues had to take the dramatic and unfortunate step of cancelling the tackle football season for three of its associations after a handful of football parents fought and screamed abusive language at other parents, coaches, officials and players. The video and reports from those games are appalling and embarassing. These incidents were beyond unruly, they were dangerous and they weren’t isolated.

When it announced its decision, New York’s Tri-Valley League wrote, “Unfortunately, a few bad apples spoil it for everyone else. We as adults and representatives of our associations and organizations need to stop the finger pointing and coming up with excuses for bad behavior...The focus of any youth sports competition should be to provide a supportive and safe environment for our participants.”

It is the young people on those teams who are paying the price. Losing the chance to play the sport they love and having to witness physical and verbal altercations in the stands among parents is scarring. This kind of behavior has no place in youth sports. Or anywhere for that matter.

Parents, the message is simple. Do better. Be better. 

Slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. Put the experience in perspective and remind yourself these are children at play. Nothing more than that. Let them have fun. The kids probably won’t remember the score in a month or what you think is a missed call.

What they will remember is the positive experience of playing and competing with their friends. And they will certainly remember their parents getting into a fight on the sidelines.

So let’s be present in their lives, sit back, be positive and let the kids be kids. And adults, be adults.

Warm regards,

Jon Butler


Pop Warner Little Scholars

P.O. Box 307 
Langhorne, Pennsylvania 19047

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