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SIDEBAR: Keeping youth sports positive for adults and children

By the U of A System Division of Agriculture
Aug. 17, 2018

(Download this sidebar in MS Word format here.) 

LITTLE ROCK – In the heat of competition, there are ways to keep yourself in check when you are watching the child you love, according to Brittney Schrick, assistant professor-family life specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

  • Keep in mind the reason you are there. “You came to watch a child you love play a sport they love,” Schrick said. “Although you want them to do well, yelling at them, belittling other children or parents, or shouting at the officials will not make them play better, and can, in fact, make them play worse. It adds stress to their experience that isn't helpful.” 
  • Remember the crowd around you. “At whatever event you attend, there are other people around you who are there to enjoy the game too,” said Schrick. “Many of those people, including the one you came to watch, are young and impressionable. Saying negative things (even under your breath), shouting, pacing, cursing, questioning the officials, and other disruptive behaviors not only take away from the experience of those watching the game, they set a poor example for the young people in the crowd and those on the field.” 
  • Words can hurt, no matter what the children’s rhyme may say. “No matter how frustrated you are with a coaching decision, play execution, or other parent's comment, unkind or inappropriate language can't be taken back,” Schrick said. “Picking on your own or another child or shouting at a coach, official, or parent is not worth the hurt it may cause, and you may even get kicked out of the game. If you feel so frustrated that you can't help yourself, it's best to remove yourself from the situation, even for a few minutes, to breathe through it and return when you are back under control. If you really need to address something with a coach, official, or other parent, talk to them one-on-one at an appropriate time.” 
  • Be a modest winner and not a sore loser. “If your team wins, don't rub it in to opposing parents or coaches,” Schrick said. “If your team loses, don't make excuses or blame others. Your kids learn by watching how you respond to things. Show respect for your child, your child's team, and the opposing team by congratulating the winners and genuinely comforting the losing team.” 
  • Know that games are not life or death. “Even if you are at a college sporting event, you are watching amateur athletes play a game,” Schrick said. “Even when the stakes feel high, the example you set for your athlete and her or his teammates is far more important that the outcome of the game. It may feel in the moment like life or death, but a game is still a game. You can recover from disappointment, but teaching your child aggressive or other disruptive sideline behaviors can lead to similar behaviors in adulthood.” 


About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses. 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. 



Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126