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Chris Gay: Soccer parents will soon shut up

Posted: July 8, 2017 - 9:30pm  |  Updated: July 9, 2017 - 2:30pm

Sit down. Shut up.

You can break the first rule. If you can't obey the second one, though, don't even think about attending a South Carolina Youth Soccer Association game in September.

In two months, the SCYSA league will enforce "Silent September," when parents will not be allowed to cheer for their children. What in the wide world of sports?

Tom Hanks famously told us there's no crying in baseball. Now the SCYSA folks are telling us there's no cheering in soccer (in September). Is this still the United States?

The reasoning behind "Silent September"? SCYSA is having an issue retaining officials from year to year. The problem? Parents.

I certainly understand that. Some parents are outstanding, while some parents act like turds. And it's not just soccer. It's like this with every sport. I've witnessed this on many instances in almost two decades of sports writing.

One high school sports parent told me she had to stop sitting next to some parents because of the way they acted. Some coaches have told me various stories about parents, especially ones who believe their child is better than another and deserves more playing time. We've even had some parents complain to the newspaper because another child was picked over their child for an all-county team. Good grief.

I'll be glad to hold a preseason "Keeping It Real" seminar with any and all parents whose children are participating in fall sports. Let me summarize that talk now: Your child isn't that good. Tell him or her to work harder. And stop blaming others (coaches, officials) for their ineptitude.

As I mentioned in my previous column, my baseball team recently lost the Family Y league championship game by one run. Some of my kids wanted to blame the umpire. Hey, the umpire didn't drop an easy fly ball. The umpire didn't miss a routine infield grounder. The umpire didn't hit several batters. The umpire didn't bat poorly. All of that was our fault. Let me repeat. That was our fault. We controlled our own destiny. We lost the game - not the umpire.

As a youth, I played 10 years of recreation baseball in south Augusta. Many of the memories have faded, but I can still recall a handful of games - ones we won, ones we lost. Not one contest was influenced by an umpire. My team won because my teammates and I hit the ball well, made plays in the field, pitched well. My team also lost because of the opposite.

Earlier this year, my basketball team lost in the Upward championship game. My son and daughter like to conveniently blame the referees. Again, the referees didn't miss shots around the basket. The referees didn't play poor defense. The referees didn't fail to communicate on the floor. We did all of those things - not the referee. And I tell this to my children because they shouldn't go around blaming others for their mistakes.

It's called accountability. There needs to be more of that spread throughout the land and not just in sports.

Children need to be held accountable early in life, especially in sports. If they start playing t-ball or youth soccer or youth basketball, they need to understand the referees or umpires are there to help provide guidance and move the games along by applying rules. The referees and umpires are not there to be targets, to be blamed for the faults of others.

Parents shouldn't pile on and yell at officials and umpires. Instead, parents need to keep it real with their children. And if it hurts their little feelings, good. Children don't need to be sheltered. They need to have their feelings hurt. They need to learn how to lose so they can learn how to win.

Children also need to learn how to be respectful around coaches and referees. Of all the sports I cover, soccer might be the worst when it comes to respecting officials. The way some (not all) players yell at referees is - for lack of a better word - disappointing. I certainly understand getting your point across, especially when you feel like you're getting taken advantage of in the heat of the battle. But coaches should be the ones holding that discussion, not teenagers.

Maybe the SCYSA folks are right. Maybe something needs to be done to curtail outlandish behavior. But not allowing parents to root for their children? That's ridiculous.

So, in two months, "Silent September" will take place. According to articles in The State and USA Today newspapers, SCYSA officials sent out a letter telling parents and fans not to cheer or jeer players on the field in any SCYSA-sanctioned games at any level. If someone violates this rule and cheers for their son or daughter, the referee will ask the coach to talk to the parent. Then, there's a second warning. If there's a third violation, the coach will be asked to eject the parent from the field. If the coach or parent refuses, the coach will be ejected.

Folks, I'm not making this up. Read about it here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article159852429.html

This "Silent September" stuff reminds me of the people who don't want to keep score at youth baseball and soccer games because we can't have children winning and losing.

Welcome to the wussification of America. Participation ribbons for everyone.

 

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