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4/22/19blog post

7 signs you're a bad sideline parent

take our quiz to find out

fast facts

  • 70% of new referees quit in the first three years because of parents
  • 1600- number of comments on this Reddit question "What is the craziest parent you've had to deal with on the field?"
  • >5% of all high school athletes will get college sports scholarships
  • 1/3 of children felt their parents had overreacted from the sidelines at least once

Parents play a vital role in supporting their child in activities however, a survey of young athletes found that around a third of children felt their patents had overreacted from the sidelines at least once. When nearly 60 million American kids play organized sports, this amounts to a lot of poor parental behavior and unneeded pressure. The obnoxious parent is still the exception, but there are enough that more than 70% of new referees will have quit within three years, according to the National Association of Sports Officials.

take the quiz

So are you a bad sideline parent? Answer these few questions yes or no and tally your score below to find out.

  • Do you feel angry or upset at every game?
  • Have you ever been told you are distracting (like shouting from the sideline, going onto the field/court) by the coach, referee, or your child?
  • Do you set expectations with your child that they are not ready for or they don’t agree with?
  • Do you blame bad calls on the referees, coaches, or other players?
  • Have you ever made fun of another player, coach or referee?
  • Have you ever resorted to violence at a sporting event?
  • Do you use profanity before, during or after the game?

How many did you answer yes to?

4-7 = time to rethink your behavior and how it will negatively affect your child

2-4= step back and adjust the few areas you answered yes to

0-1= Great job! Cheer on sideline super parent!!!

Did you score 4-7? Don’t fret. Here are some tips to get you sideline ready.

  1. Take ownership and be accountable. Show your child that you can change and be a strong role model.
  2. Take a breath, take a walk, and take a break. If you can’t calmly stand on the sideline or sit in the stands, maybe try watching from afar. Your child will still know you are there and being supportive even if you aren't right on the sideline. 
  3. Support and encourage. Remember you are the parent, not the coach! Don’t give advice before or during the game. That’s the coach’s job. Just give your support and encouragement.

Remember, sportsmanship is displayed as much by the players and coaches as the parents in the stands. One year from today, this sports season will be a distant memory. Five years from now, no one will remember the final scores, or the names of most of the kids on the teams. Let’s keep our focus on the most important part, the kids.

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Lora Scott, MD

program director sports medicine
view full bio
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