Sportsmanship and High School Parents: Ten Tips To Remember When Attending Games
Email share
An angry mom yelling at an official during a soccer game.
An angry mom yelling at an official during a soccer game.

Follow @Nate_WekSDPB

In the state of South Dakota, high school athletics are abundantly serious to those involved, whether it’s a fellow student athlete, a parent of an athlete, or a community member who is attending as a fan.

It’s no secret that sometimes fans take their actions too far when attending high school sporting events. These actions could be yelling at the coach, screaming at an official, or giving negative criticism to an athlete.

According to the rules set in place by the South Dakota High School Activities Association, ‘coaches are expected to impress upon their athletes the importance of displaying good sportsmanship at all times.’

So if the players and coaches are required to be respectful and abide by the rules of good sportsmanship, shouldn’t the same be expected from the fans in attendance?

John Krogstrand with the SDHSAA sent me an email this week, explaining what is expected of fans attending high school sporting events.

John Krogstrand said -

“High School Athletics are an extension of the classroom and should be treated as such - a learning opportunity for all. The conduct of everyone present needs to reflect just that -- how would parents react if their son or daughter's math teacher was screaming negative comments at them from three rows back during a test? While I get that it's a sporting event and there are exciting moments and pieces that don't fit that analogy at all times, I sure hope that fellow parents and spectators would remember that before letting a kid - theirs or someone else's - "have it" that we are in a school setting.”

I personally have been at games and experienced ‘fans’ taking things to an unacceptable level. I’ve witnessed a parent get up from their seat at a basketball game, walk down to the floor, and speak (it was yelling) to the coach as the game is underway! It’s fair to say that this kind of incident is NOT acceptable, as it regards to the SDHSAA code of conduct policy.

Tim Warsinskey, a columnist and sports writer with ‘The Plain Dealer’ out of Cleveland, Ohio, came up with ten tips for high school sports parents to consider when they’re attending games.

Here is Warsinskey’s list…

  1. Have No Expectations
    • ​​​If you go into his or her freshman year thinking, “This kid is going to be a star,” you have just set the bar too high.
  2. Give Your Kid Space
    • Let her enjoy her successful moments and figure out how to deal with defeat, failure and disappointment. Don't get too wrapped up in the wins and losses. Your job is to make sure your child does not get too high after a win or too low after a loss.
  3. Have An Objective View
    • Don't tear him down by telling him what he did wrong unless the child comes looking for constructive criticism. Most of the time, the kid knows it better than you.
  4. Let Your Child Make Decisions That Matter, With One Caveat
    • When he or she considers quitting — and most high school athletes have that moment — make the child understand quitting is not the first option, especially once the season has begun. Dealing with adversity and persevering are important lessons.
  5. Grades Really Are The Most Important Thing

    • The chances that he or she will get a college sports scholarship are almost nil, and even if the stars align and that happens, the kid still has to have good grades.
  6. Don’t Ignore Injuries
    • If he or she is hurting, find out what it is. Playing injured can hurt the team and your kid’s long-term health.
  7. Let Your Child Fight His Or Her Own Battles With The Coach
    • Especially regarding playing time, your kid has to deal with adults. It’s part of growing up. He or she will have to confront professors and bosses, and this is a good place to learn. If it’s another issue and you find it necessary to get involved, always wait a day to talk to the coach. Let your emotions subside and think clearly and the point you want to make. If you suspect there is hazing or abuse taking place, report it to the athletic or activities director, or principal immediately.
  8. Support The Team And Be A Good Fan
    • Volunteer, and don’t wait to be asked. Attend booster club meetings. Get to know the other parents. Make your own positive experience in the stands, no matter what is going on below.
  9. Understand These Are Competitive Sports
    • It’s not little league where every kid gets to play. There’s going to be disappointment, heartache, unfairness and injuries. Unless it ends in a state championship, it will end in defeat. Your kid is going to make mistakes. The coach will yell at him or her. That’s what they do. Let it happen. He or she is not a baby anymore.
  10. Enjoy the Ride
    • It will go by fast. Enjoy the moment of watching your child participate in sports, because before you know it – it’ll be over.

If you want more specifics on what is and isn’t allowed for fans attending high school sporting events, please visit the SDHSAA’s code of conduct policy (page 24) here!