Inappropriate Sideline Behaviour at Childrens Sporting Events

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Picture a typical Saturday at a school/ club sporting event- a blur of motion and sound. Majority of parents are there cheering positively and enjoying the day. Then there are those who are prowling the sidelines. The prowlers mean business. This minority of parents become field generals, scowling, barking orders and commanding their kids to excel. Physical activity has been clearly recognised to provide social, physical and mental health benefits for youth, bar none. Parents and coaches are key influences in their children’s uptake, enjoyment and ongoing participation in sport (Walters, 2012). However, concerns have been regularly expressed in the media, both in New Zealand and internationally, about inappropriate sideline behaviour displayed by parents at children’s sporting events. Many ethical behaviours are being conflicted by this issue. I have chosen to focus on what I believe to be the most important being, respect, citizenship and self-discipline. Parents’ behaviour on the sideline therefore contradicts the Peter J Arnold’s quote which states “It is argued that sport, is a valued human practice and is characterised as much by the moral manner in which its participants conduct themselves as by the pursuit of its own skills, standards and excellences. Virtues such as justice, honesty and courage, are not only necessary to pursue its goals but to protect it from being corrupted by external interests.” The extract from the quote “by the moral manner in which its participants conduct themselves” could be interpreted that it does not apply to the parents, as they are not actually participating in the sports. But the application to parents is established later on in the quote “to protect it from being corrupted by external interests”. These parents, who relive what they may have missed out on in their own childhood, are placing demands on their kids by emphasising the importance of winning at all costs, as opposed to participating. This is a major reason why youth of today drop out of sport at an early age - a lack of enjoyment from sporting experiences, due to parental pressure (Bigelow, 2001). Part A: Critically examine the role of sport as a tool for learning and developing ethical behaviour through ONE issue relating to New Zealand sports people. Respect is an attitude of deference, admiration or esteem (Collins, 2006). Parents that slander rules and officials at sporting events are thus not adhering to conventionally accepted standards of conduct that include admiration and esteem of the rules that bind the sport. A personal example of this lack of respect was at the 2010 Christchurch Junior Netball Tournament. We played against Villa Maria in our pool games, and, throughout the whole game, one of the parents of the opposition stood behind our shooting circle and verbally abused both us and the umpire. There is no need for this insulting input from the sidelines as it prevents both teams from playing the game in a safe, positive and educational environment. This ethical issue detracts from the essence of the game for the players and supporters which include passion and enthusiasm, as no athlete can be enthused by being on the receiving end of hatred and negativity (Boyer, 2012). Parents take their children’s sporting events too seriously and as a result they seek blame in means such as the umpires or referees calls. A study domestically undertaken (Stamp, & Walters, 2012) interviewed 287 referees. 180 or 62.7% stated that they witnessed or were on the receiving end of inappropriate behaviour at least once or twice a season. Parents often have little idea of the intricacies of the rules, but feel expert enough to loudly and relentlessly criticise an umpire. This behaviour is unacceptable as it disrespects those that are giving up their time to support and contribute to youth sport. As often said, without the officials sport would not be possible. Blaming the referee is an attitude that majority of New Zealanders...
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