Nothing that ruins a youth sporting event quicker than an outspoken sideline parent who yells, gripes, and pushes their kid in such a way that coaches, players, and other parents feel noticeably uncomfortable. Three youth soccer clubs in Sweden, Djurgarden, AIK, and Hammarby, came up with a seemingly silly but wildly effective solution to what had become a pervasive issue.
The clubs recognized how big the problem of rowdy sideline parents had become after they sent out a league survey to players and parents. Results indicated that one in three players admitted they considered quitting due to the antics of parents, while 83 percent of parents said they’d witnessed other moms and dads not only push their kid too hard but also loudly criticize coaches or referees. Once the clubs grasped the scope of this issue, they developed an “honor code” to help curb this sort of behavior. Basically, the code is intended to ask parents to monitor the behavior of themselves and parents around them. It reads: “I, as a parent, will do everything I can to support my child, other children, club staff, referees and parents in training and at games – through a positive involvement.”
The code may seem silly, but it has proven incredibly effective. More than 1,600 parents have already agreed to uphold “the code” and some have even asked to have the code printed on shirts so they can spread the message of civility and encouragement. The number of problem-causing parents has lessened. And players have expressed gratitude for not letting such loudmouths ruin the experience of those just trying to enjoy the game.
Due to the quick and passionate response from players and parents, other clubs are considering following suit and creating a code of their own to monitor unruly behavior. If it continues to be successful, don’t be surprised if U.S. leagues develop similar practices. Because there are dick parents that need to settle down everywhere.