Have you ever experienced sideline aggression from other parents?
A few years ago my son was booted from his under-six soccer team.
It was done very politely – “sidelined” might be a better term for it.
It was delicately suggested that “another team” might suit him better. A team less focused on the sport and more on the fun of it.
It was a semi transparent way of telling me he wasn’t quite good enough. They were on track to win, and having a child who had only kicked the ball a few times in the season (let alone a goal) wasn’t their idea of a successful combination.
Failure to qualify at the age of six.
I wanted to scream “He is six for f***s sake. Stop living out your failed dreams through your kids and back off.” But I didn’t. I smiled and agreed another team was the way to go.
Secretly, I was relived. My son wasn’t a star player and spent more time laughing with his mates than following the score and it simply wasn’t the team for him. The emailed Game Plan Master Document each parent received the night before the under-six grand final cemented it for me.
It was my first glimpse of overly competitive sporting parents and it left me with a bad taste and a desire to protect my son from the harm these methods could bring. The scary thing is that if this is what kindy soccer brings out in parents, can you imagine how grandiose they become in the higher ranks?
Over the weekend the Penrith District Junior Rugby League announced that they will be introducing touchline guards to ensure that they avoid the violence that has marred many junior sporting games in previous years.
The thought behind it by Panthers General Manager Phil Gould is that the presence of touchline guards will provide a safer environment and (hopefully) trigger a rise in participation rates.
"If our security person sees a parent or spectator starting to get a bit aggro, he has the authority to go up to them and say 'Settle down, it's only junior football'. We've found that if we don't have someone to do that the parents can get a bit carried away," he told Fairfax Media.
Former captain of Australia, Brad Fittler, applauded the move saying, "I have clearer memories as a 10-year-old player than I do from representing Australia ... mainly bad ones ... getting chased by parents."
No wonder many parents – mainly mothers – shudder at the thought of their son or daughter playing rugby league.