The Rise of Incivility

By: Mr. Wilson on September 18, 2006
Recent incidents of incivility at youth soccer matches make me fear that idiot sports parents are coming back. When I first began officiating baseball and soccer in the mid-90's, local sports parents were a pain in the butt. It was not at all unusual for me for make a parent leave the field once a week or so. The problem was bad enough that the YMCA and other organizations began programs like the Let 'Em Play campaign. The program seemed to have the desired effect, as incidents of idiocy on the sidelines declined. Lately, however, anecdotal reports suggest that poor sideline behavior is returning. I'm not surprised -- I have long hypothesized that things like this are cyclical -- but I am disappointed, and a little frightened for what effect a resurgence of poor sportsmanship could have on already thin numbers of sports officials in Lincoln. I will highlight two recent examples. The first occurred at a U-11 (under age eleven) boys soccer match. It was not an especially challenging or eventful match, from a refereeing perspective, as is typical for that level of play. The blue team was clearly better than the yellow team. Alone, that wouldn't have been a big deal. But it just so happened that one of blue's best players -- I'll call him #11 -- was a big boy, a bulldog, if you will. Yellow's players had a tendency to bounce off of him whenever he was around. It wasn't that #11 was playing dirty, or even playing all that aggressively. Instead, simple high school physics was at work, and the smaller yellow players didn't stand a chance. Long story short, yellow's parents were a little grouchy from the womping their team was taking, and they were looking for a target. They found him in #11. Eventually one mother crossed the line. I happened to be standing only twenty feet away when one mother implored to her team to "take out" #11 and to "push him down". I immediately turned around, glared at the mother and a couple others nearby who had also been walking the line, and gave them a verbal lashing that stunned the entire sideline into silence. Now, that's quite unlike me; I haven't chewed out parents in years, and unlike some officials, I don't go looking for conflict. But nobody endorses violence toward a 10 year-old boy when I'm around. And what if the referee had been somebody, perhaps a teen, who didn't put a stop to the comments? The second incident happened yesterday. I wasn't there for the meat of the action, but I got to sit in on some of the aftermath. Apparently the parents of a U-14 girls team didn't care for the center referee on their match. The center -- I'll call him Bob -- was a young kid, probably 16 or so. Bob isn't the most enthusiastic referee, but teen boy referees unfortunately rarely are. Still, he does a reasonable job, even though his self-presentation is poor. Well, the parents snapped, and several of the mothers confronted Bob on the field after the game. Let me make clear what I just said: several grown adults engaged in an angry confrontation with a child over a game. They belittled him, demanded he give them his name, and threatened to report him to whoever it was they thought they should report him to. As it turns out, this isn't the first time parents from this team have behaved poorly. (Although they have never behaved this poorly.) Without giving away the ending of this story, I strongly suspect the sideline will be much quieter at the team's next game. Neither of these two incidents is all that major, in the grand scheme of things, although clearly the latter is more significant than the former. However, they are two situations out of several that reflect what I fear may be a new trend. I hope I'm wrong. I hope recent events are nothing more than a statistical anomaly, and that local sports parents aren't actually re-idiotifying. Whether I'm right or not, do your part to halt the trend before it catches on. Attitudes are contagious; make sure you're spreading a good one.


See what your friends and neighbors have to say about this.

September 18, 2006 at 2:11PM


way to stand up for what is right.

Mr. T
September 18, 2006 at 4:29PM

Interesting to note that the behavior you are citing to (which I agree was totally obnoxious to say the least) was from women, not men. One usually associates anger as a culturally approved male expression.

Regardless, what a bunch of asses.

September 18, 2006 at 4:53PM

I’ve noticed a few mothers tend to think that their status as “Mama bear” allows them to treat other children unfairly in the name of protecting their own kid.

September 19, 2006 at 7:27PM

Yeah, I agree those are bad situations that need to stop. Thanks SO MUCH for being one to stand up against them.

In regards to the others comments, it does seem in general that women are being encouraged more and more to be more aggressive and violent. I’m not sure of all the reasons, that’s another topic, but even in youth and teens, I see a big trend these days for the women to be showing how tough they can be, whether verbally or even physically.

Of course men do it too, but I just distinctly notice the rise of it in women these days.

It’s sad and I hope we can stop it in women AND men.

Share your thoughts with the community.

Commenting is no longer permitted on this post.