Parents, Authority, and Sportsmanship

After I finished my games today, I walked past another field to get to my car. A team of u14 girls had made its way across the field to where their parents were sitting. One mother says to a girl, “Tori, were you giving the referee some lip.”

The coach responded that that Tori almost received a yellow card from the referee for talking back to the referee, who happened to be a college referee.

The mother responded, “Alright, Good for you, Tori.” She then did the woo girl cheer.

This is far from the first time that I have heard a parent cheer for a yellow card or a near yellow card. I gave a yellow card to an u14 boy once – and nearly gave him a straight red, as it was a pretty bad tackle, and heard his dad yell out, “Good job, son. Way to get your money’s worth.” I’ve walked past parents telling their child that they will give them $5 if they pick up  yellow card.

When did this behavior become acceptable? I had very lenient parents when I was young, but my parents would have flipped out if I got a yellow card for yelling at a referee. Now, it is normal behavior, and in some instances, behavior that is praised and celebrated.

Has youth sports lost all meaning in terms of growth and development of social values? Have we reached the point where all that matters is the win?

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice and Fake Fundamentals

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