Encouragement From the Sidelines


By Shaleek Blackburn

Whether sitting in the stands or standing on the sidelines, parents and fans should always bring a positive and encouraging attitude when gathering to support their athletic team, especially at the interscholastic level.

“When we’re talking about interscholastic sports, we’re talking about impressionable young people,” says Dr. James Forkum, professor and information specialist for the Masters of Coaching and Athletic Administration program at Concordia University Irvine. Parents and fans have an obligation to maintain a digni ed setting where everyone – including members of the opposing team – can express themselves while supporting their team.

It’s a good thing for kids to see their parents and fans willing to express appreciation of the sport itself,"

Dr. Forkum says. “Just because you’re rooting for one team, doesn’t mean supporters should make the impression that the opponents are the enemy, to be loathed or castigated.”

Since the core goal of interscholastic sports is to build a young person's character, says Dr. Forkum, it's essential that supporters, especially parents, be keenly aware of how to react to their child's sports participation. Parents should take the position of being supportive, understanding and clearly defining – for themselves and their children – the roles in the sports process, particularly the coach’s role, advises Dr. Forkum. “Parents certainly should not question what the coach is doing in the way of the offense, defense or decisions that are made during the game that may or may not affect the outcome,” suggests Dr. Forkum. “They should be supportive of the coach.” Setting the tone for who’s in charge of calling the on-the- eld shots demonstrates not only good sportsmanship, but appropriate sideline behavior, says Dr. Forkum. “Young people watch their parents. It’s just like the role of the coach: it’s not do as I say, it’s do as I do.”

As for fans, they should follow the lead of parents, says Forkum. Cheering good plays on either side of the ball, whether it’s the opponent or somebody on their own team, says Dr. Forkum, is one way to demonstrate true team spirit.

3 Tips To Encourage From The Sidelines

Be Positive

Be enthusiastic; display a positive attitude toward the contest, the players, coaches and the people cheering for the opposing team.

Be a Good Sport

Give consistent encouragement and support to your child regardless of the degree of success, level of skill or time on the fi eld.

Be a Parent, Not an Athletic Director

Don’t criticize the coach; focus on encouraging and supporting your child’s athletic goals.

Tags: sports, parents, fans

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