South Carolina’s men’s basketball coach Frank Martin had some harsh word for sports parents who aggressively disrupt games and try to coach their kids from the sideline. When one of the angriest coaches in college sports history tells you to turn it down, you know something is wrong.
Martin had stayed silent on the subject, but spoke up after seeing parents at his son’s 5th-grade basketball game storm onto the floor and make a scene: “I’m probably the most animated coach that you’ve probably ever seen when my team’s playing. I go watch my kids play, I don’t say boo. I don’t wave my arms, I don’t try to coach my kids. With all due respect to most parents out there, I probably know more about basketball than most of them, OK. But I sit in the stands and I don’t say a word.”
Martin went on to express sympathy for the stressed, overworked officials and coaches who often bear the brunt of overzealous parents. It’s coaches that are giving up their time to help out little kids for almost no money, and Martin is baffled that parents would stand on the sideline “yelling obscenities at the officials” and “criticizing every decision the coach makes.”
“There’s two guys refereeing a fourth-grade game on a Sunday morning. What could they possibly be making? 20 bucks a game?” said Martin. “So on a Sunday morning, instead of being at church, those guys are out there trying to make a couple bucks, to pay their bills, feed their families.”
Even with his years of expertise, Martin explained that he doesn’t let his kids talk to him about things they should discuss with their coach. Martin seems to be committed to letting the coaches coach, all while staying out of the mix as a parent: “I’m not going to criticize a guy that’s trying to help you.”
“If someone wants to be so animated when there’s a basketball game going on, then go coach the team, go run practices, show up every day at 6 o’clock at night and run an hour-and-a-half practice,” said Martin in closing. “Then you’ve got your team to coach, or be an assistant coach, sit on the bench, yell all you want.”
Martin isn’t the first to point out that sports parents need to be put in check sometimes, but he is one of the most high-profile to address this ongoing problem. Missouri state legislature is currently pushing for a bill that will appropriately punish parents for assaulting the people who officiate youth-sports, while verbal abuse from parents has also resulted in a shortage of youth sports officials.