Parents and Adult Fans Becoming the Challenge Facing High School Sports

Boone, Iowa – As the fall season approaches we are reminded of the alarming fact that the official shortage in the state is a real problem. According to a release from IHSAA Director, Tom Keating, nearly 60% of new officials registered in Iowa in 2016-17 did not return to officiate in 2017-2018. The release cited that, “often those officials are citing unruly parents as a major reason why.”

Even though here in North Central Iowa we haven’t seen varsity games postponed due to officials, elsewhere around the state, schools, athletes, and fans haven’t been so lucky. No officials, no high school sports. 

According to a national survey, more than 2,000 high school athletic directors were asked what they least like about their job, 62.3 percent said it was, “dealing with aggressive parents and adult fans.”

The IHSAA has put together a checklist parents and adults should read before attending events. 

1. Act your age. You are, after all, an adult. Act in a way that makes your family and school proud.

2. Don’t live vicariously through your children. High school sports are for them, not you. Your family’s reputation is not determined by how well your children perform on the field of play.

3. Let your children talk to the coach instead of doing it for them. High school athletes learn how to become more confident, independent and capable—but only when their parents don’t jump in and solve their problems for them.

4. Stay in your own lane. No coaching or officiating from the sidelines. Your role is to be a responsible, supportive parent, not a coach or official.

5. Remember: Participating in a high school sport is not about a college scholarship. According to the NCAA, only
about 2% of all high school athletes are awarded a sports scholarship, and the average total value of that scholarship is only around $18,000.

6. Make sure your children know you love watching them play. Do not critique your child’s performance on the car ride home. Participating in high school sports is about character development, learning and having fun—not winning and losing.

Purchasing a ticket to a high school sporting event does not give you the right to be rude, disrespectful, or verbally
abusive. Cheer loud and be proud, but please also be responsible and considerate as a spectator.
The future of high school sports in Iowa is dependent on you

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