It seems like sports parents are crazier than ever.
Every other game features some mom or dad going berserk from the bleachers, ranting and raving about any perceived slight toward their child.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that 80 percent of high school refs now quit before their third season. The numbers seem to be just as bad at the younger levels—70 percent of youth soccer refs in South Carolina quit after their first year, for example.
Parents seem to believe that a future D1 scholarship is riding on little Jimmy beating the red team, which leads to them verbally (and in the worst cases, physically) assaulting refs, coaches, and opposing parents.
There has never been an instant in history where being the “crazy sport parent” has been a good look. You’re sucking the fun out of the game for all involved, which is the exact opposite of an ideal youth sports environment.
We recently stumbled across a Reddit thread asking youth refs to detail their worst experience with a sports parent, and the replies were horrifying. If you want a reminder of how NOT to act on the sidelines, these are great examples…
Let’s Go To The Video…
A parent threatens to fight a 16-year-old baseball umpire in the parking lot even though there’s clear video evidence they made the right call.
It sounds like an episode of South Park, but for Reddit user sneakersotoole, it was all too real:
I’ve posted this before but it’s worth telling again:
When I was 16, I was umpiring the championship game of the baseball league for 9-10 year olds in my city with a friend of mine. The team in the field is up by 1 in the last inning and there are 2 outs with the bases loaded. Parents are SCREAMING in excitement.
The batter smacks a line drive that falls in front of the right fielder, the runner on 3rd scored easily and the runner that was on 2nd is trying to score as well. The throw from the right fielder is way off but there’s one problem, the 2nd kid never touched home plate. He stepped right over it. So while the team that thinks they just won is celebrating the catcher picks the ball up and tags the runner who missed home plate. I called him out. The parents went crazy. Cursing at me at the top of their lungs in front of their kids and even going as low as throwing stuff at me. It was pretty terrible.
Turns out one of the parents was recording the game and between innings he showed me what he had recorded. I was right, the kid was never even close to touching the plate. The team that thought they had won ended up losing in 8 innings. He showed the video to the rest of the parents and a few of the people slipped me some extra money after the game for treating me so poorly. However, one parent did confront me in the parking lot and tried to fight me until he was dragged away by his wife.
TL;DR: 9-10 year old baseball is serious business
No Wonder She Stopped Playing…
Sports are supposed to be fun.
But parents like this are the reason more kids are quitting sports before age 12 than ever before. From a now deactivated Reddit user:
I played softball from the time I was 5 to 19. Lots of crazy softball dads living vicariously through their daughters.
The one that sticks out happened our first game of the season, and it started when a girl, who was talented but an emotional wreck under any sort of pressure, hits a ground ball like any other to short. She’s out at first. When she walks back to the dugout, her father, the head coach, takes her bat and says she’s not allowed to use it anymore, because he “didnt spend $300 for her to ground out”. I heard the entire interaction because I was catching. He made her use one of the league provided bats for the rest of the game, which are too small and beat to hell. Naturally she plays worse, so next he takes away her helmet and makes her use the league provided one, which is nasty and never fits anyone. Then he made her play without her face mask in the infield. The girl is fighting tears the entire time and is making mistakes left and right and he’s continuing to belittle her, a d yelling out loud that next he’ll take away her TV privileges, or she won’t be able to go to some outing next weekend. Her team mates say nothing, the other parents say nothing. We were all 10 to 12 years old.
It was just awful. My dad was my head coach then, and I remember him pulling aside a couple of parents on their team afterwards. That coach was ended up replaced and his daughter was still allowed to play, but he later had to be banned for heckling his own child from the sideline when she made mistakes.
I never saw her again after that. I’m not surprised if she quit sports all together. It was disgusting to watch.
This Guy Deserves a Raise
Both of these incidents are horrifying.
Reddit user Apache0624 deserves a raise:
I started reffing basketball when I was 16, so needless to say, adult coaches had a hard time trusting a kid. I’ve had several experiences that I have had to eject a parent or coach. However 2 events stick out for me.
This game was in a select tournament (summer ball), and the losing team’s coach was giving us attitude all game. We had tried to be patient because his team of 6th graders was losing by 40. Finally he started cussing out my cooffical, which is an automatic technical. No big deal, it didn’t affect the outcome at all. After the game, he came over to me while I was changing out of stripes to threaten to have is “boys” to come over and take care of me in the parking lot. Keep in mind I was 17 at the time. When he followed me out to the parking lot to “have a talk”, the police were called and he had a report filed against him.
The second incident came a couple of weeks later. About 45 seconds into the game, a dad from the stands begins berating for not making a call on a play that he believed a travel occurred. Before I could even warn him, he was on the floor trying to attack me. Two other dad’s had to restrain him and he was thrown out of the building. After the game, I was told the man was drunk. At 2 in the afternoon. At his daughters 9th grade basketball game.
Hockey Parents Can Be a Little Intense…
Have you ever seen a quarter of a hockey game’s crowd get ejected?
Because Reddit user BPSteve has:
I used to be a youth hockey referee, I had a game once with a team that was known to be very dirty and have parents that were out of control. It was squirt level which meant there was no body checking allowed, and this team was going all over the place and hitting everyone in sight. After calling 3 very obvious penalties the parents started going nuts at us referees. Swearing, leaning over the glass to scream at us, etc when finally one parent threw something on the ice. I was relatively new and was getting nervous about what to do, but my fellow ref calmly skated over to their fan section, pointed from one spot to another in the stands and said “everyone sitting from here, to here” and then proceeded to kick about 1/4 of the fans out of the arena. It was pretty great to behold.
Mind you, this incident happened during a Squirt level hockey game.
That generally means the kids actually playing the game were 9 or 10 years old.
You’re Just Jealous!
When a sports parent loses their cool, they not only embarrass themselves, but also their child.
That’s how you eventually get to a point where the kid’s not even interested in playing anymore. From Reddit user Ramrod312:
I played volleyball my whole life, and when you are in tournaments, players from other teams in the pool that aren’t playing are assigned to be line judges, keep score, etc…
When I was line judging when I was 16, I called a ball in and a parent in the crowd obviously disagreed with the call. How do I know? Because she spent the next 8 minutes yelling at me, calling me a cheater, saying I’m jealous of her boys (We beat them earlier, so not sure where that came from), screaming that the tournament was ridged. I felt horrible for her kid who was obviously extremely embarrassed throughout the whole process. After the 8 minutes was up, and a warning from the ref, the lady was thrown out of the gym. She was later let back in, but Jesus Christ she was off the charts.
The younger the age group, the more you make yourself look like an idiot if you go ballistic from the bleachers.
Case and point, this story from Reddit user juiceboxhero:
I was reffing a 10 and under soccer game, again 10 years old or younger. There was this one larger kid who was being physically aggressive and knocking other kids down to get the ball. I gave a free kick to the other team after this happened , and took a knee to explain to the kid that you cannot use your hands to fight for the ball. Well this kids dad just loses it, shouting out that I’m a wuss, his kid is doing nothing wrong, open my eyes, bla bla bla. Well it came to a point where I told the parent that if he did not stop, I would ask him to leave; and if he did not leave the game was over and everyone goes home. Thankfully he shut up, but I will never forget how insane some parents get over their kids games.
The Ping Pong Plan
This incident is so unhinged that it’s almost humorous.
From Reddit user hockeypeg18:
I referee hockey, I once had a guy who brought a bag full of ping pong balls and started to throw them at the other teams players. When an employee of the arena came to throw him out of the rink, he dumped all of the ping pong balls on the ground and started running
Touching is Not a Penalty
Contrary to some parents’ belief, reasonable contact is allowed in soccer.
From Reddit user CrabFarts:
It wasn’t just one parent, it was ALL of them watching a particular game. I didn’t referee any differently this game, but none of them could handle the fact that because I also played soccer I’d let a little physical contact go. They wanted me to call a penalty every single time one player touched another. It’s soccer, people! Contact happens! I finally had to stop the game, call over both coaches, and tell them to calm down their parents or I would send them all to their cars (something I was well within my rights to do). They calmed down, or at least grumbled low enough that I couldn’t hear, and the kids finished the game. One of the parents took the issue to the league officials. I explained what happened, and they told me I was correct.
You’d think you’d learn to avoid temper tantrums after having a kid of your own, but apparently that’s not always the case.
Just see this story from Reddit user JSibs22:
On one of my youth hockey teams, my coach was also a doctor. In one game, a player on the other team ended up getting hit pretty badly and likely was concussed, so my coach went to look at him while the assistant coach took over. During the assistant coaches time in charge, we let up 2 goals to lose a 2-1 lead, and ended up losing 2-3.
Now there was one parent who was known to have anger issues, and he was FURIOUS at the assistant coach for “blowing the game”, screaming at him from the stands, and loudly cussing at him. One of the other parents, a local police officer, defended the coach to him, only making the angry parent angrier. This escalated to some shoving and threatening in the lobby between two parents, from the same team, in their own rink, in front of a crowd of the visiting team’s parents and families. It would have escalated further if a parent from the other team hadn’t told them to take it outside and stop being childish.
The next weekend before another game, the angry parent gathered the rest of the parents, apologizing and breaking down into a sobbing mess, telling them he was going to therapy for his anger issues. According to my dad, this was by far the most awkward moment of his life.
Good on this parent for at least seeking help.
The Crazy Aunt
A young baseball player watches from his position in the outfield.
Ejected from the game. Arrested. A month in jail. Thousands of dollars in fine. Banned from any future youth sporting events. If you’re an insane sports parent, this could be your future.
From Reddit user PBandJayne:
Obligatory “not me but,” my aunt was the crazy parent. When my cousin played baseball, she’d always scream the entire game and was easily the loudest parent there. One game, the coach benched my cousin because he was having a very off day, just was paying terribly. My Aunt starts screaming at the coach to put him back in. He refuses, so she charged him and starting punching him. Other parents jumped in to stop her and she ended up fighting them, as well. The police were called and she ended up spending a month in jail, paying several thousand dollars, doing community service and was banned from attending any sporting events. Fun times. -_-
Arguing Balls and Strikes Never Ends Well…
Ejecting an entire fan section is an impressive umpire feat.
From Reddit user bleeperMobile:
I was an umpire for a small town and I had been doing this for 4 years at the time. Most of us were highschool or college students and at the time I had the most experience besides the guy who ran the league at umpiring, because of this I normally had the more “aggresive” teams (angry parents and coaches) since I knew how to handle it. So, about the 3rd inning of the game that I had that day the entire visiting team side started screaming at me saying my strikezone was unfair and too large. This was a 10u baseball game so the strike zone was bigger than it would be for any other level of baseball where I’m from. At one point a parent/coach storms onto the field and starts ripping into me saying he’ll have a word with my boss about favoritism of the home team, blah blah. Both teams were from a different city, so I didn’t listen too much to him. After the next batter struck out for that team the coach came out and decided to film me. I’m ok with this because it’ll make him look stupid later on when he sees that the strike zones are the same. This goes on for about two innings before the coach approaches me after one inning to show his “proof”. He got into my face yelling and shoving. I just looked at him, smiled, and said very loudly, “YOU”RE OUT OF HERE!” This got the parents very angry at this point as well and they started swearing at me as well. Keep in mind this is a 10 years and younger game. So, at this point I kick the entire fan section out. Best part is that my boss saw the whole thing go down and said I did the right thing.
TL;DR- I kicked out an entire teams crowd because my strike zone wasn’t MLB standard for 10 year olds and didn’t get in trouble.
This is the definition of a parent living vicariously through their child.
Hey dude, this is a u-6 basketball game–not the NBA Finals! Stop trying to implement your own personal version of the Jordan Rules and just relax. From Reddit user Perl_pro:
Coached for 20+ years, seen a lot of crazies. Mostly moms who think their kid should be the star, and wonders why they are on the sidelines.
Once I was coaching my youngest son’s basketball team, a bunch of 5-6 year olds. We were playing a really bad team, 4 of the kids were terrified and had no idea what to do with the ball. One of the parents of OUR team was ‘helping to coach’ on this day (his choice, not mine). On the court, every time the other team got the ball, he SCREAMED for our boys to steal the ball. As 5 year olds would do, we pretty much tackled the other team’s kid and stole the ball, went down and scored. Every parent, mostly on our team, was telling him to chill out. He kept on.
At the end of the game, I (as head coach) said to him ‘we need to talk’. He blew up. Right in the middle of the gym, with a room full of 5 year olds and their parents, he is in my face screaming that His little johnny isnt going to grow up to be a pathetic loser (his words), but a winner, and he will be damned … blah blah blah lots of curse words for about 5 minutes, not giving me a moment to retort.
Parents were covering kids’ ears and hurrying them out. I had never seen a parent lose it like that before or since.
A 15-year-old kid starts swearing at the ref during a soccer game. The kid’s dad then runs on the field and starts doing the exact same thing.
Shockingly, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. From Reddit user peanutbuttersucks:
I reffed ~11-16 year old games when I was 15-17. Being so close in age to the players, parents thought they could do whatever they wanted. Worst moment was, I believe, 15 year old players while I was 17:
Kid slide tackles a goalie who is already down covering the ball. Easiest red card call on the planet. Kid’s teammate comes running up and starts cursing me out. Another easy decision to give a yellow and tell him he needs to stop talking or he’s gone, too. All of a sudden, the 2nd kids dad comes running onto the field, saying stuff about how he pays for his kid to play in this league, I can’t do that, he’s just supporting his teammate, etc… He gets all up in my face, so I start walking backwards telling him to please get off the field. He decided instead to threaten to punch me (again, I am 17 at the time. He just threatened to beat up a kid).
So, I walked over to the coaches, said that I was threatened and so I had the right to cancel the game immediately. I got in my car and drove away while everybody was standing around confused. Ended up filing a report with the league, and IIRC that dad was banned from coming to his kid’s games the rest of the season.