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Sideline Rage

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The recent shooting of a high school football coach by an angry parent at a high school in Canton, Texas has again placed parent, fan, and coaching behavior at school sporting events in the media spotlight. Several districts across the nation have taken measures to promote good sportmanship—especially on the sidelines—with mixed results.


What can be done to educate the K-12 athletic community to prevent verbal and physical abuse? Do you have personal experience with such incidents? What is your school doing about this issue?

17 Comments

Perhaps we could continue to encourage students, and of course the community, to understand that academics are still the reason their youngsters are attending school. The enhanced importance of becoming a professional athlete, or just the best in the community---for "bragging rights", has caused our society, in many cases, to forget that schools are not just here to get these kids millions of dollars.

The violence that we see on the playing field is rooted deeply in how we treat one another. Violence is in almost every aspect of a child's life. Many still believe that bullying is a rite of passage -- that will ultimately make kids stronger. When those attitudes prevail, it is clear that there is no quick fix for these issues. There needs to be a systemic approach to dealing with these isues that include students, educators, parents and the general community. Sound like a "tall" order -- it is but, research shows it is the most effective form of violence prevention.

Athletics is the ticket to fame and fortune. Grossly over paid professional athletes, that’s what the media projects into our culture. And at the K12 level it’s become more fact than fiction, a good athlete will go far. At this level I’ve seen it for decades, parents with wealth and influence in communities have been aloud to gain preferential treatment and advantage for their children regardless of their athletic or academic abilities. On the other hand we have exceptional athletes given passing grades to keep their eligibility regardless of their academic ability to a point of illiteracy and then given college athletic scholarships. We all know this to be true especially in small school districts. We have all seen it, school board members, school administrators, teachers even school employees putting pressure on coaching staffs to gain advantage for their children.

Private schools go as far as to recruit exceptional student athletes to their athletic programs and provide special favors for those families that will place their student in that school. Then gain athletic advantage in a conference while public schools cannot recruit according to conference rules.

We have lost sight of the fact that schools are for educating or children to become responsible productive adults not super athletes. You say you want to stop the sideline rage. But yet we do nothing to change the system> Wake Up !!!!!!!!!

Inappropriate behavior should never be tolerated and/or ignored at any athletic event. Minor inappropriate verbal abuse that is overlooked can escalate into physical abuse of catastrophic proportions

The School District of Philadelphia is being pro-active in addressing issues of safety, both on and off the field of play. Coaches teach and monitor good sportsmanship and are accountable for the behavior of their athletes. Athletic directors, along with Central Administration plan and provide for security at each event to assure a maximum level of safety for all.

However, in order to change behaviors among adult spectators, programs need to be developed in collaboration with parents, community, coaches and student-athletes. This cross-section of the school family can develop action- plans in which they have "ownership" and thus feel empowered to help create positive change in their own communities.

Inappropriate behavior should never be tolerated and/or ignored at any athletic event. Minor inappropriate verbal abuse that is overlooked can escalate into physical abuse of catastrophic proportions

The School District of Philadelphia is being pro-active in addressing issues of safety, both on and off the field of play. Coaches teach and monitor good sportsmanship and are accountable for the behavior of their athletes. Athletic directors, along with Central Administration plan and provide for security at each event to assure a maximum level of safety for all.

However, in order to change behaviors among adult spectators, programs need to be developed in collaboration with parents, community, coaches and student-athletes. This cross-section of the school family can develop action- plans in which they have "ownership" and thus feel empowered to help create positive change in their own communities.

Inappropriate behavior should never be tolerated and/or ignored at any athletic event. Minor inappropriate verbal abuse that is overlooked can escalate into physical abuse of catastrophic proportions

The School District of Philadelphia is being pro-active in addressing issues of safety, both on and off the field of play. Coaches teach and monitor good sportsmanship and are accountable for the behavior of their athletes. Athletic directors, along with Central Administration plan and provide for security at each event to assure a maximum level of safety for all.

However, in order to change behaviors among adult spectators, programs need to be developed in collaboration with parents, community, coaches and student-athletes. This cross-section of the school family can develop action- plans in which they have "ownership" and thus feel empowered to help create positive change in their own communities.

The behavior we are witnessing today is part of a picture we see emerging in schools today: parents who defend bad behavior by their children, who do not back up the schools and yet expect schools to do everything and any number of other problems. However, coaches like Bobbie Knight at the national level and others we all know at the local level, who have a win-at-all-costs attitude, can not be excused. I really believe that there is a connection between years of Bobbie Knight-type behavior being allowed (even encouraged because he was a winner) and the disastrous events now occuring.

Good Morning,
My comments are character education and parental involvement. There so much teacher, coach, administrator, and etc can do. What I think would be a great idea, speaking as an ex-cheerleader coach, is to have activities implemented in the athletic program that almost commands parent involvement. Total involvement does not solve all problems but it certainly can help prevent some. In this program, have parents to sign contract agreement of cooperation with the different activities. Believe it or not these programs sometimes reveal to them how judgemental they are and who their child really is as a person, how he/she perform in school and on the field.

Marchina Toodle

The problems we see in Inter-scholastic sports is the same we see in education in general. No longer is the teacher/coach someone to be respected and supported.

I see the problem coming from a couple of areas. Unfortunately, it is not just athletics. This occurs when teachers and administrators attempt to correct misbehavior. Parents more and more tend to justify and defend this misbehavior and place blame on the schools. In many cases, they may even agree the behavior was inappropriate but are unhappy with the consequences.

Athletics at the high school level has lost their meaning. To too many parents it is the means to college. That is not the purpose nor was it ever intended to be. Parents and students need to be given a reality check and somehow informed that is not our purpose. Any information provided to parents and students that would emphasize that point would be helpful. When these many schools are requiring parents to sign different agreements before their child participates, it should also be included that no one is guaranteed the opportunity to play and it is not the purpose of interscholastic sports to help students gain college scholarships.

Our school system and administration has tried to address the issue through character education with our students as well as parents. At the beginning of the school year we will have a speaker come in and speak on character. This includes all extra-curricular activities in our school. The meeting is an open meeting for all students and parents involved and is mandatory for all coaches. The speaker usually address all three on how to conduct themselves. We also incorporate character in all of our programs. This focus is more on the players and coaches with hopes it will effect the parents. Most of the programs have things that remind students about character. We have T-shirts, shorts, banners, etc. that all have "character counts" printed on them. We also encourage our community leaders to be part of our programs (people we feel that exhibits great character). These leaders address our teams throughout the year. The leaders include former players, public leaders, church affilated individuals etc. As coaches and administrators, we are always encouraging our student athletes to exhibit great character and do what is right. With our character stand we have gained great support from our parents and community.

As a former basketball official I know all too well how much parents can become involved with their children's athletic programs. If we could only get them as involved in our classrooms that would be great. Teachers need to do all that they can to make sure that parents are welcome in their schools and should be involved in all aspects of their children's lives. I've been involved with athletic programs on every level and have seen the good that comes from them. I will also continue to support them, even when I hear the news of another crazed parent attack and there will be another. One can not control what some people will or will not do no matter what. We can however do our best to reach parents early, letting them know that their children are going to be great no matter what happens on a field, court, mat, pool or rink.

While I believe that the individual committing the action is certainly the one responsible in a case like this, I can also see where other things in our society might make it easier. It's true that teachers and coaches are not given the respect that they deserve anymore. Also, there's so much focus right now on holding teachers accountable for student acheivement that I think tends to go far beyond the bounds of what a teacher actually controls. The assumption of many people is if a child fails or something goes wrong with a child related to school, etc, then it's the teachers fault. With this specific indicidence, I also believe it can be said there's too much of a focus on athletic scholarships and the wealth and fame of professional athletes. The emphasis in sports in schools should be as an activity of enjoyment, encouraging teamwork and sportsmanship, and the child should be at the center of it. All too often the parents take over that position. Maybe there should be stricter rules to curb overzealous parents.

My husband is a coach for young wrestling team. He and the other coaches had the kids and the parents sign a contract that they will maintain appropriate behavior during practices and meets. It has worked for them so far. Everyone is aware of these rules and likes the idea of the contracts.

There is a growing movement across the country for coaches and teachers focused on character education. Many of the existing programs are creating helpful awareness of character formation. Programs like Changing Lives from Mark 1 are integrated into the coaching priorities and classroom curriculum on a daily basis connecting character values to life skills. When schools implement the program in the athletic program and classes on a daily basis the result is transformation in the culture and climate of the school. The results dramatically decrease the disciplinary issues in that school, increase both student and teacher attendance. It is time for a national strategy for character education as a foundation to effective education whether in the classroom or on the athletic team.
Dr. Dick Daniels
President, Changing Lives
www.mark1.org
[email protected]

This issue is one that's been growing for years. Athletics has to be kept in perspective and we need to use our time with kids to teach and model character. Many people believe that athletics teach character. They don't!! Sports EXPOSES character or the lack of. A great program that started back in the 1980's is COACHING TO CHANGE LIVES. Coaches teach character traits for 15 minutes every day before taking the field or court. The workbooks are taken home on Tuesdays and the lessons are discussed between the parent and student athlete.
It's a great program that builds bridges between parent/child and also between parent/team. Most importantly kids learn valuable life skills and sports are kept in pespective. Is'nt that what it's suppose to be about.

The Texas assault is only the tip of the iceberg. There are far more subtle and pervasive issues of concern throughout our youth sports culture. Dropout among youth athletes at age thirteen is approximately 70%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranks obesity as the #1 health concern for adolescents. We need to revolutionize how we present athletics to our youth with an emphasis on the joy and participation versus the status of accomplishment.

I just wish that everyone would just have the courage to tell it as it truly is.

Every sports league who has parents pay so that their child can play thinks they today can tell the coach or the sports association on how to run their program or what position their child should play. We now have people coaching just to make sure their child gets to play the position they feel he or she should play.

The foul language and the constant second guessing by parent's is today just unbelievable. Violence in youth sports will continue to rise as long as it is about money, status and connections.

The best example is about a high school player who was never allowed to catch in two seasons, always having to play third base because the players father was the baseball booster club president. This is a team who won a state baseball championship with the third basement getting the winning hit to win this awesome state championship game. I was the school administrator in charge during the championship game.

The third basement in his senior year received a full baseball scholarship to Georgia Tech where he started as a catcher all four years and became an All-American. Last year he was the catcher for the World Championship Baseball team, the BOSTON RED SOX. His name is Jason Varitek.
He and his parent's never complaint, they were team players and always thought that their son was making a differece playing third base.

Politics, money, telling coaches how to do their jobs, foul language, critizing the umpires or referees is out of control. The last college game that I officiated caused me to look up into the stands and listen to the bull-shit sounds that today students and adults are yelling at the referees or umpires.

Professional athletes in all sports have become poor role models. It's all about money and who you know.

And we today are trying to fix violence on our athletics fields and courts. It is out of control.

Wolfgang W. Halbig

www.makeschoolsafe.com

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Recent Comments

  • Wolfgang W. Halbig Assistant School Principal: I just wish that everyone would just have the courage read more
  • Warren Breining / Associate Director, Sports Leadership Institute: The Texas assault is only the tip of the iceberg. read more
  • Randy Klug/ Coach Grand Rapids, MI: This issue is one that's been growing for years. Athletics read more
  • Dick Daniels, President, Changing Lives: There is a growing movement across the country for coaches read more
  • A. Harris: My husband is a coach for young wrestling team. He read more

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