Just this week, both the Boston Globe and the Philadelphia Inquirer published stories about a growing shortage of high school sports referees. The Globe says the source of this “burgeoning national problem” is “unruly parents who are creating a hostile environment at school sporting events.”
In early October, Dr. Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the national governing body of high school sports, also wrote an article about high school officials who are “hanging it up” because of inappropriate behavior by parents, fans, coaches, and players.
At Colorado Academy, we expect the same behavior from both players and parents, whether it is in the classroom, in the Campus Center, on the athletic court or sports fields. Whether we are dealing with the opposing team or their fans, the coaches or referees, we are a community that expects supportive, respectful, and appropriate behavior.
There is nothing as exciting as a parent or a fan to cheer on our players; at the same time, we always remind our students that our behavior at these events speaks volumes about our school and our families. Every year, I receive letters from coaches and parents from other schools commending our students on their passion as well as their compassion while playing sports, and how they go out of their way to help others. No doubt, our children learn from us, so the more that we model that, the more our children put it on display.
The message parents can send
I cringe when I read more of Dr. Niehoff’s article in which she quotes from a referee resignation letter describing the result of parents screaming from the sidelines: “Every time you do this, you tell your son or daughter the following: ‘I do not believe in you, I do not believe in your team, I do not believe in your collective ability to overcome your own adversity, and you absolutely will not win and cannot do this without me tilting the table in your favor.’”
This particular ref went on to admonish parents saying, “Let your kids rise or fall as a team, as a FAMILY.” Niehoff added, “We would hope that parents and other fans will embrace the concepts of education-based athletics by respecting the efforts of those men and women who officiate high school sports.”
During my time as the Colorado Academy Director of Athletics, I truly feel that all officials that I have witnessed have tried, to the best of their ability, to be impartial and call games fairly. We are grateful for the service that CHSAA referees provide for our students, and I always feel fortunate to be a part of the high school sports scene in our city and state.
I look forward to seeing you at some of our post-season competitions this month, and I encourage our Colorado Academy fans, players, and parents to continue to be supportive, respectful, passionate, fans who can continue to be our best selves while cheering for CA.