During the past decade, I have had the opportunity to conduct training workshops on sideline parental behavior all across America. Whether I was at a national meeting of soccer coaches or a regional meeting of a sports organization, the initial question for discussion was always the same: Should parent training be mandatory in youth sports? You can see the anxiety on the faces of the administrators of youth sports programs as they contemplate the challenge of training such a large group as the all the parents of kids in their program. The larger the organization, of course, the bigger the headache.
This is one challenge from which, I believe, we should not back down if we hope to change how parents behave on the youth sports sidelines. The need for a change in parent behavior is well documented. Simply put, the number of times when parents act inappropriately towards officials, players, coaches and other parents is unacceptably high. Most agree that something must be done, but are unsure whether they want to put in the effort required to change the status quo.
For me, the answer is: If you want to see a change in parental behavior, then make the COMMITMENT to providing appropriate education for the parents.
El Paso Commits To Parent Training
My views on mandatory parent training are based on first-hand experience with a parent training program set up in my home town of El Paso, Texas after the city council passed an ordinance requiring all parents of those participating in youth sports on city-owned land to complete a three hour training program. Over 15,000 parents have been trained in the program's first three years of existence. More important than the number trained, impressive though it is, has been the significant, positive results achieved. The number of violent incidents has greatly decreased across all sports. The atmosphere on the sidelines has changed dramatically as well, with a greater degree of cooperation among parents, coaches and referees. All to the benefit of the kids, who, after all, are what youth sports should be all about.