What You Say to the Ref Matters

If you are a parent of a kid who plays sports, you’ve seen it. Maybe you’ve even done it. Parents screaming at referees, often kids themselves, for a perceived missed or bad call. Here is what berating a ref does NOT say about you.

It does not say you understand the game. In my experience, it is usually the parents who know the least about the game, and never played at any significant level, who scream the loudest.

It does not say you are a good parent. We have a generational tendency to do what I like to call, “Display Parenting.” This is when we applaud or discipline our children loudly, so everyone around knows we are either on task as a parent or hears us say our kid is awesome. e.g. “Make good choices!!!” “I appreciate how kind and thoughtful you were to share your ice cream with your best friend.” “It is not ok to hit no matter how annoying that child was to you.” Screaming during games is the worst example of this need for everyone to know we care about our child.

It does not make your child feel loved. It embarrasses them. I have seen too many kids respond by hanging their heads on the field, covering their faces or even shouting at a their parent on the sidelines. The other kids aren’t jealous of the kid with the crazy parent, they are at best, sympathetic toward him and at worst, annoyed by him.

It does not send a good message. Blame the ref for the loss, and while you’re at it, blame the coach for the shot you missed, the teacher for the bad grade, the college for not accepting you, the cop for finding your stash and the judge for putting you away. See? It’s a slippery slope.

It does not help. It will not change the call. It will not get you the next call. It may, however, get you ejected from the game.

It does not impress the coach. You may hurt your child’s reputation with the coach, and may even prevent your child from making the team the following year. There is no coach who appreciates his role being undermined and his efforts being thwarted by people on the non-coaching side of the field.

Oh, and by the way, it does NOT matter. This is kids’ sports, not the World Cup. Perspective is a rare but wonderful thing.

You have to read this letter from a 4th grader, which was posted on Offside.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at drkarenlatimer@gmail.com to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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