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During his 29 years of coaching, my husband did his best to minimize parent problems during the season. Every year in a pre-season parent meeting, he explained his coaching philosophy. But parents either didn’t listen or chose to forget because they still complained. Finally, one year he decided to try the parent contract.
The parent/sports team contract asks parents to read and sign a form stating that they understand and will abide by the coach’s and school’s athletic philosophy. Would you sign a contract that asks you to abide by certain behavioral guidelines?
The National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) has published a pledge for sports parents to take at the beginning of the season. The general idea is that parents promise to be positive and encouraging to the team and to their children. The reviews are mixed as to whether this tactic actually works.
You will have some parents who sign it out of pressure and then don’t think of it the rest of the season, especially when they are yelling at the coaches and officials during the game. But you will also have parents who believe in keeping their word. These parents will stop themselves from acting badly because they remember what they pledged.
Let’s be honest: a parent contract or pledge is probably not going to solve all the problems in youth sports. But I believe it can certainly help, especially for parents who desire to be positive voices, but just sometimes forget.
A parent pledge will remind you that you promised to be a positive influence. It will help you think about what you say, how you say it and who you say it to. Sports parents, for the sake of your athletes, I strongly urge you to read the NAYS pledge over and agree to abide by it.
Print it out and put it on your fridge so you and your spouse are reminded of it daily. Displaying it for the whole family will also assure your kids that you are there to be a positive support for them, not to interfere and control. Putting it out there for them to see will go a long way to helping you stay accountable to keeping your word.
Are you willing to take the pledge?