The National Federation of State High School Associations and the South Dakota High School Activities Association joined together to release a statement on Monday, reminding adult fans and parents at high school sporting events to use appropriate behavior.
SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos said each week throughout the nation, there are multiple incidents surrounding adult fans and high school athletics.
“This behavior is reaching a tipping point, and examples of it are everywhere,” said Swartos. “We lose dozens of officials every year because they are sick of being verbally abused by adult fans. Confrontations between parents and coaches are commonplace. If these trends continue unabated, the changes in high school sports as we know them today will be seismic.”
As it pertains to officials, nearly 80% of high school officials in the United States quit in their first two years – most of which cite ‘unruly parents’ as one of the main reasons.
“As a result, there is a growing shortage of high school officials here in South Dakota, and in some sports the shortage is severe,” explained Swartos. “No officials means no more games.”
It’s not just high school officials who are complaining about parent behavior at events either. More than 2,000 high school athletic directors were recently surveyed throughout the nation about which aspect of their job they enjoy the least. Over 62% of those surveyed said “dealing with aggressive parents and adult fans.”
The South Dakota High School Activities Association released a list of six guidelines that parents should follow when attending high school sporting events.
- Act Your Age. You are, after all, an adult. Act in a way that makes your family and school proud.
- Don’t Live Your Life Vicariously Through Your Children. High school sports are for them, not you. Your family’s reputation is not determined by how well your children perform on the field of play.
- Let Your Children Talk to the Coach Instead of You Doing It for Them. High school athletes learn how to become more confident, independent and capable—but only when their parents don’t jump in and solve their problems for them.
- Stay in Your Own Lane. No coaching or officiating from the sidelines. Your role is to be a responsible, supportive parent—not a coach or official.
- Remember, Participating in a High School Sport Is Not About Getting a College Scholarship. According to the NCAA, only about 2% of all high school athletes are awarded a sports scholarship, and the total value of the scholarship is only about $4,500 per year.
- Make Sure Your Children Know You Love Watching Them Play. Do not critique your child’s performance on the car ride home. Participating in high school sports is about character development, learning and having fun—not winning and losing.