As an athlete and as a coach I have witnessed some of the strangest behavior I have ever seen in and around athletic events. Don't get me wrong there are many great parents out there involved with their children's athletic activities, but sometimes they are a few who are more than a burden to the athlete and the others involved. The behaviors I have seen first hand have been swearing at the referees, coaches, and even some times the athlete. Another time I have saw a fist fight between one parent and my Coach. I have seen physical and verbal abuse taken place in front of many spectators, and these moments were the most embarrassing for everyone involved. Similar to the FA parent guide scenes where the father is yelling at his son. This behavior does not demonstrate the 3 c's, and make sports un-enjoyable. This lack of communication from coach to athlete to parent is something all participants in sports need to recognize.
In my opinion I think parents should have to take a course on how to act and react when involved in sport. Anderson and Aberman describe the role of the coach, but not of the parent (2006). Parents also need to recognize the type environment they are creating by these outbursts. Vealey says these outbursts make the athlete, player and those involved with the team feel less than adequate, and lowers self-esteem(2005). Most athletes would prefer their parents to remain silent unless there is something positive to say about the game. It is important for the parents to understand that these actions can be detrimental to the athlete and those involved. Creating the "toxic environmnent" may steer the athlete away from sports completely. Especially at the youth level where the kids are participating to meet new friends and enjoy the outside.
In the end it is up to Coaches and parents to set solid examples of sportsmanship and teach the values that sports can provide.
Vealey, R. (2005). Coaching for the Inner Edge. Morgantown, VW: Fitness Information
Anderson & Aberman (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit. Monterey, CA: Coaches Choice
The FA Parent Guide. www.thefa.com/respectparentguide/.
Through a Child's Eyes: Parents' Guide to Improving Youth Sports. http://www.sportsmanship.org/News/CTSA%20PGuide%20Final.pdf