We’ve all been there. You head down to the park to see your beloved child play a game of footy, you settle down to enjoy the match, and then before you know it you’re screaming yourself hoarse and casting extreme doubt on the parentage of the umpire.
It’s a real problem throughout junior sport: parents who let their enthusiasm for the game and their natural desire for their offspring to do well get the best of them, to the point of abuse. One junior league has decided to take decisive action on it.
Melbourne’s Eastern Football League has introduced “Silent Sundays”, where parents will be prohibited from shouting, coaching from the sideline, or addressing the umpires.
Before you worry that this might introduce a somewhat funereal ambience to the local footy, clapping and cheering after a goal is kicked IS allowed – as long as it’s “respectful”.
Maybe it’s a little extreme to introduce this kind of crackdown on crowd behaviour, but there’s no doubt parental passion can quickly get well out of hand, and sadly it’s the public-spirited volunteers who give up their spare time to umpire the games who frequently take the brunt of the abuse. With the recruitment of umpires more difficult than ever, making life easier for the officials by reining in crowd antics will hopefully have a positive effect.
That goes for the kids too, who hopefully will find their Sundays more enjoyable now that they can play the game they love without worrying about what the more unrestrained of parents are going to hurl at them from the sidelines.