Parents, Authority, and Sportsmanship

After I finished my games today, I walked past another field to get to my car. A team of u14 girls had made its way across the field to where their parents were sitting. One mother says to a girl, “Tori, were you giving the referee some lip.”

The coach responded that that Tori almost received a yellow card from the referee for talking back to the referee, who happened to be a college referee.

The mother responded, “Alright, Good for you, Tori.” She then did the woo girl cheer.

This is far from the first time that I have heard a parent cheer for a yellow card or a near yellow card. I gave a yellow card to an u14 boy once – and nearly gave him a straight red, as it was a pretty bad tackle, and heard his dad yell out, “Good job, son. Way to get your money’s worth.” I’ve walked past parents telling their child that they will give them $5 if they pick up  yellow card.

When did this behavior become acceptable? I had very lenient parents when I was young, but my parents would have flipped out if I got a yellow card for yelling at a referee. Now, it is normal behavior, and in some instances, behavior that is praised and celebrated.

Has youth sports lost all meaning in terms of growth and development of social values? Have we reached the point where all that matters is the win?

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice and Fake Fundamentals

3 thoughts on “Parents, Authority, and Sportsmanship

  • I have worked two big foot events this year in Houston Texas. One being the Kingwood classic NCAA certified event and the other being an EYBL event. I was a court monitor. To get to my point, I was disgusted with the reactions from the coach, parents and kids. We ejected a coach that grabbed and punched a kid in the top of the head and screamed profanity at him. They cops had to remove him and later found out it was his own kid. There was a fight between two parents in the parking lot. Parents were constantly having to be warned or kicked out for yelling at the refs or kids from the opposing team. 90% of the games had a technical foul administered to either the coach, players or both. I can’t begin to tell you how bad the coaches spoke to these kids! I was behind the bench at one game a coach yelled at a player and told he was f*#$ing embarrassing…. that he was soft as drug store cotton and needed to take up band. I could for three days of the stuff that happened. It was defiantly a lack of sportsmanship and good example from authority.


  • Yikes! And I keep telling soccer people that soccer is way worse than basketball…maybe I’ve been away from AAU too long! Or spend too much time on the girls’/women’s side of hoops…

  • Carlo & Brian, a similar thing happened yesterday in Kansas City for an “Elite” basketball tournament where a fight broke out between two teams. APPARENTLY, a coach punched a kid… cops came… charges were filed.

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