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How to Be a Good Youth Sports Spectator

By SportsEngine, 06/19/12, 2:15AM CDT

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One of the best things about being a youth sports parent is getting to attend all of your child’s games (or as many as you can make) and cheer them on from the stands. But we’ve all seen what happens when youth sports spectators get out-of-hand. What is supposed to be a fun game can turn ugly very quickly.


Here are six things parents can do to be a good youth sports spectator:
 

Cheer, don’t coach
As spectators, it’s a sports parent’s job to do what spectators do best, just cheer. This can sometimes be hard to do, especially if you feel like you could do a better job than your child’s actual coach.

But coaching from the sidelines puts your youth athlete in an awkward position — who are they supposed to listen to? It also undermines the authority of the coach and could upset the dynamic of the team.

If you really have issues with the coach talk to them after the game, don’t try to out-coach them from the bleachers.

Don’t trash talk the opposing team
It’s important that sports spectators remember the old adage, “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.”

You never know who you are sitting next to in the stands, or who can overhear your conversations, so just avoid trash talking in general. Remember, sports parents set the example for their youth athlete.

How can you expect them to practice good sportsmanship if you don’t?

Stay positive
Not every game is going to be your child’s best. It’s important that sports parents stay positive no matter how things may be going for your youth athlete or their team.

Players beat themselves up enough for the mistakes they make on the field, so try to cheer them up and help them focus on what went right, as opposed to fixating on what went wrong.

Put yourself in your player’s shoes, what kind of encouragement would you want to hear from a loved one in the stands?

Avoid getting into arguments with other spectators
You never want to be “that” sports parent or spectator. We all know the one — the one that yells, criticizes, picks fights and generally causes a ruckus in the stands. Try to remember that this is youth sports; it’s supposed to be about the kids and having fun. There are too many stories of unruly sports parents getting into fights with each other and getting seriously injured.

Don’t hassle the officials 
It is not your job to question the official’s ruling. If anyone needs to talk with the referee or umpire let the coach handle it. Again, it’s all about acting the way we would want the kids to behave.

Cheer for the whole team, not just your player
Imagine you couldn’t make it to your player’s game, wouldn’t you hope the other spectators would cheer for them if they made a great play?

Do the same thing for every player on your child’s team. All players contribute to the overall success of the team, so make sure everyone gets recognized for their effort.