A new policy meant to curb the behaviors of problem parents on the sidelines of community sports is spreading across the United States. Called “Silent Weekends,” the policy implements a Code of Conduct for problem parents who just can’t help but yelling. Rules that are in the Code of Conduct include that parents should “Attempt to relieve the pressure of competition, not increase it,” “Applaud good plays by your team and by members of the opposing team,” treat officials with respect, and not yell at referees. Basically, the goal is to prevent parents from being whiny dicks and let their kids. So far, it’s working.
Several cities have taken up the charge of “Silent Weekends,” including the town of Neena, Wisconsin. The new code of conduct has seen parents use such coping mechanisms as silently walking away and pacing to making posters to silently wave during gameplay. Kids who participated in the silent weekend in Neena, including one 9-year-old, said that the crowd silence helped improve team focus. No word yet on the blood pressure of the dads trying to stay silent.
Although the ‘Silent Weekends’ may feel like an overblown reaction to what might be a minor problem, studies have shown otherwise. Even encouragement from parents while their children are on the field can make the children playing feel inadequate. Kids report feeling embarrassed when their parents call them out specifically or cheer for them too loudly, and can unconsciously connect how their parents act while they are on the field with their personhood. Kids also learn from their parents that they can criticize their peers based on their sports performance.
Whether or not Silent Weekends officially spreads to your neck of the woods, it’s a good code of conduct to follow. Not only will it help kids feel less pressure on what is supposed to be a fun and optional extracurricular activity, but they will also make local hot heads look a little bit less like “that parent.”