New Rules for Soccer Parents in South Carolina: Silence

images-1The big thing in sports parenting news today is that the entire state of South Carolina’s soccer association has made rules for spectators—this means you, parents—to be silent. That’s right. No cheering, jeering or yelling. Sit there and watch or you could be in trouble.

In “New rule requires S.C. soccer parents to be silent on the sidelines,” an article from USA Today spells out the rules:

ONE
All parents and visitors shall be silent during the game. No cheering, no jeering; just enjoy your player and the game that they love. Also during this Silent September, all parents and visitors shall be on that half of the parent touchline opposite their team’s bench.

TWO
In the event of a parent or visitor violates this rule, on the first instance during a game the referee will ASK the coach to counsel his parents/visitors to remain silent, on the second instance during the game the referee will TELL the coach to counsel his parents/visitors to remain silent, upon the third instance during the game the referee will direct the coach to DISMISS the offending spectator(s)—if they do not leave or the coach refuses—then the coach will be sent off. If there is not an appropriately carded adult to continue coaching the game, the game will be abandoned and the circumstances reported to SCYSA. Likewise, if the offending spectator(s) still refuse to leave, even after the coach is sent off, then the game will be abandoned and the circumstances reported to SCYSA. If in the opinion of the referee the situation warrants, first two steps (ASK/TELL) are not required.

THREE
Prior to the beginning of the season, each team manager shall obtain parent signatures on behalf of each player on their roster acknowledging their awareness of the parent/visitor code of conduct.

FOUR
Team managers are expected to be on the parent touchline in order to address any inappropriate behaviors directly.

FIVE
Teams / Parent Groups / Individuals who are reported as having been dismissed from a game are subject to sanctions for their inappropriate conduct. Repeat offenders will be sanctioned more severely. The purpose of this SILENT SEPTEMBER is to make parents/visitors aware of the SCYSA focus on appropriate sideline behavior and of the existence of a CODE OF CONDUCT, and re-establish that managing parent/visitor behavior is the responsibility of coaches and clubs, NOT referees. Following SILENT SEPTEMBER, SCYSA will have periodic SILENT SATURDAYS/SUNDAYS as a reminder.

 

This story is being reported widely, throughout national and local news. A local South Carolina NBC TV affiliate, Channel 4 WYFF, reported on it as well:

The South Carolina Youth Soccer Association oversees soccer referees throughout the state, and is the state governing body of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

The association said it is having so many problems with parents heckling referees and with referees that quit because of the heckling, it is implementing “Silent September” for all South Carolina Youth Soccer Association sponsored league games, at all levels statewide.

The SCYSA posted a memo saying that because of the “continuing problems with sideline behaviors on the parent/spectator touchline and the impact that inappropriate behavior has upon our youth, especially upon youth referees; and the additional impact that inappropriate sideline behaviors have upon overall referee retention, SCYSA is implementing a Silent September for all SCYSA sponsored league games, statewide, at all levels.

In an article called “Poor behavior leads SC officials to silence youth soccer fans,” from The State you can read more details and direct quotes from the people involved:

Andrew Hyslop is co-executive director of the Carolina Elite Soccer Academy (CESA), which has had “Silent Sundays” from time to time in the past.

“I don’t think it’s pointing the finger at one group in particular,” Hyslop said. “I think it’s coaches, players and parents kind of coming to see that there needs to be a common ground, which will allow referees, especially younger ones, to make mistakes. Players need to be allowed to make mistakes, and referees need to be allowed the same leeway. It’s probably long overdue. I’d like to think in coming years we don’t need to take these kids of steps, and people can enjoy being at a game on the weekend.

This all seems heavy-handed to me. However, I am not a soccer parent, but a swim mom. I can’t imagine that the SCSYA made rules like this out of the blue. They must have thought about this for some time. I don’t know if the parents from the swimming and soccer sports are that much different, but in many ways, swimming isn’t as subjective. In swimming, the clock and the swimmer’s time is the ultimate authority. Yes, there are officials who disqualify swims, but when they make a call, rarely do you see a parent argue or protest.

I love cheering for my kids. I love cheering for their teammates and some of my best memories are standing at the end of a lane during Junior Olympics with noise makers, pom poms, cheering loudly with other parents. One time, our team was so loud, we were told to tone it down. But, our cheering was being done with enthusiasm and good will.

Like I said, I’m not a soccer mom and I’ve been to very few soccer games. I wonder if it’s the majority of parents making this so tough on the players, coaches and referees, or is it a handful ruining the experience for everyone? If it’s only a few individuals, I wish they’d be dealt with and let everyone else cheer and have fun.

One of my biggest pet peeves, when my kids were in elementary and middle school, was group punishment. I never did buy into it and felt it unnecessarily punished kids who weren’t deserving of it. I talked with a few teachers about it and they felt it was a tool where peer pressure would get the troublemakers in line. Tell me how this will work with parents?

I think we all have to remember that sports are for the kids. They have so much to gain from competition, staying fit, and being with friends. If we put the focus on the kids learning life lessons and what they’ll take away from their sport, rather than winning at any moment in time, things may fall back into perspective.

What are your thoughts about the new South Carolina “Silent September” soccer rules? Do you think they are warranted? I’d like to hear from soccer parents if things are things really that out of hand?

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