Out of control parents on the sidelines taught a silent lesson this weekend.

This weekend when my son runs on to the soccer field it won’t be to the cheers (or jeers) of the spectators.

It won’t be to the shouts of “run harder” or “wake up boys”. It won’t be to shouts of “get down the field” or “kick it Harry kick it now.”

It will be – in theory – to silence.

The soccer club my son is a part of is having its annual “Silence on the Sidelines” weekend.

The aim is to raise awareness among parents and spectators about sporting behaviour and encourage a “supportive environment.”

The club has asked that there be no yelling at the players, coaches or referees.

“Let the coaches do the coaching.  No yelling, no loud talking or abusive language used.”

The club doesn’t want to hear Charlie’s dad telling the ref he’s got “no bloody idea what he’s doing” or Lucinda’s mum arguing with the mums on the other team to “teach their kids to play fair”.

It doesn’t want to hear a rather portly balding man telling the coach of the under sixes he’s “only complaining cause his team is f**ing losing.”

All things I heard with my own ears on the sidelines last Saturday at a soccer ground on Sydney’s north shore.

The club has asked that there be no yelling at the players, coaches or referees. Via IStock.

It sad that an initiative is needed to ask, in essence that an under seven soccer game have only “clapping and cheering” and only the coaches should do the coaching but even from my few years of being a ‘soccer mum’ I can tell you it's necessary.

This is the same club that only a few weeks ago was forced to send out a stern warning to teams to ensure that they made sure all the players on the teams were allowed to play – not just the best ones (leaving the weaker players, often the girls in some of the mixed teams on the sidelines) and that parents were to refrain from arguing with the referees about their decisions and that violence among spectators was not permitted.

Violence, swearing, arguing.

These are Under Sevens.

A basketball game got out of control last week. Via IStock.

And while you might think it’s over the top to ban a few sledges from the sidelines a recent event at a kid’s basketball game in Melbourne underlines just why it was necessary.

Only last week a mother was arrested and charged after attacking another parent during a brawl on the sidelines of a series of children’s basketball games.

“It was out of control. Everyone was trying to break it up,’’ a witness told The Herald Sun.

“There were kids who were upset and crying. It’s a kids’ game and this kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable.

“It was distressing for a large number of families. Even some of the mums looked visibly upset. It shook up everyone as it came from nowhere.”

It is an interesting question as to what is driving this need for a focus on the behaviour of parents. Parents who seem to focus on winning at all costs. Parents who seem to forget the fact that it is the kids paying the game not them.


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Now don’t get me wrong I’m dead set against the everyone gets a prize culture which seems like one solution to this madness.

I have a soccer mad six-year-old who likes to win.

No let me re-phrase that I have a soccer mad six-year-old who LOVES to win.

He likes the feeling of being the victor, kicking the winning goal. When his team doesn’t win he’s despondent- but only for a minute or two – until he can play a friendly game with his mates kicking, kicking, dribbling.  It’s all about scoring a goal.

He’s not the only one, last week as they went on the field a boy from the opposing team – aged 6 or 7 – approached my son’s team and with a menacing grin told them “We’re going to smash you and thrash you.”

They didn’t. (They lost 5- 2. But whose counting right?)

His statement took a few of the parents on the sideline momentarily aback.

Where do kids that age learn such competitiveness? Is it in the school yard? Is it innate? Or is it from their parents?

Is it the parents cheering on the jeering on the sidelines for their kids to “smash and thrash” the other seven year olds?

Kids want to win. Via IStock.

Science shows we are programmed to want to win, research (only done on males) found that winning, even for spectators gives a testosterone surge and losing actually lowers hormone levels.

Hilary Levey Friedman, Ph.D., a sociologist at Harvard and author of Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture told that competiveness teaches resilience.

"The ability to bounce back after a loss becomes increasingly important as your child reaches the elementary-school years," says Dr. Levey Friedman. "Teaching resilience now sets kids up for success because they learn that failure isn't the end of the world. It's just a chance to try again. “

But we need to make sure its not winning at all costs not winning while forgetting fairness and even plain old fun.

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