Parents play an invaluable role in club and community sports. Occasionally, however, some become over emotional, verbally abusive and sometimes even physically aggressive. It’s important that the inappropriate actions of a few parents don’t ruin the sporting experience for everyone else.
Inappropriate behaviour by parents can result in:
Clubs have a legal responsibility to address behaviours that offend community standards or are against the law (e.g., racial vilification, sexual harassment, criminal or common assault).
Where would junior club sport be without mums and dads? Who would ferry children back and forth between sporting fixtures, hand out half-time oranges, wash uniforms and make sure players arrive on time wearing both boots?
We all know that, if not for mums and dads, we would struggle to find enough club administrators, referees, coaches, scorers and line markers, and the spectator stands would be bare. Without a doubt, they are an invaluable resource and an essential part of any sport.
But what about those parents who turn ugly? You know the type. They scream instructions from the sidelines, admonish the referee (who is often barely a teenager), challenge the coach, sometimes storm onto the playing field or even get into a punch-up with an equally passionate opposing team parent. It happens.
So what can we do about it? What role do coaches play? How about club administrators? How can parents successfully tread that line between supportive and aggressive?
Tips for coaches
Clubs have a legal responsibility to address behaviour that offends community standards or is against the law (for example, racial vilification, sexual harassment, common assault). If you witness behaviour that you think may be illegal, you should report it to the police. Similarly, if a bad situation escalates and becomes dangerous, play should be suspended and the police may be required to intervene.
You should be familiar with club policy as it relates to abusive or aggressive parents. Know what you can and can’t do. Are you permitted to issue a warning, withdraw the parent’s child from the team, call a ‘time out’ or ask the parent to leave?
If your club doesn’t have a code of behaviour, Play by the Rules can help. Just go to our Member Protection area and download the template. Add your club’s logo or use it as a starting point to develop your own policy.
Also check out our video scenario ‘Ugly parents and abuse of umpires’