A Silent Sideline


This Saturday was spent, as it feels like every Saturday has been for the past ten years, watching one of the kids participate in a youth sporting contest.

There was a different feel to this particular game, quieter, more subdued.  A certain usually boisterous father uncharacteristically keeping his big mouth somewhat shut for a change.

The reason for this silencing was an e-mail from the soccer league earlier in the week informing parents of a new “silent sideline” rule that had been implemented. Applause for good play was still allowed but other than that we were basically told to stand there and shut up.

The reasoning seemed valid. The stated goals being the development of player on field decision making without sideline intervention, improving the player’s communication with each other by reducing the outside noise level, and supporting and aiding in youth referee retention by eliminating dissension from spectators.


silent sideline


The reasons were valid but I hated it. Hated it and found myself unable to comply. I understand the need to let the coaches coach, try not to yell instructions at my kid during the game. I understand that these referees are all volunteers, feel that I do a pretty good job of not telling them about their mistakes. I’ve never mocked an opposing player for poor play or scolded one of ours.

I yell things like “nice job”, “nice try”, “nice pass!” ¬†Sometimes I yell “get ready defense”, “spread out girls”, “you’re going the wrong way!”


silent sideline


Anybody that has spent any time at these games has come across the kinds of parents that these rules are intended to curtail. Jackasses that yell at their kids, that yell at the refs, that embarrass themselves and their children. Maybe I’ve just been fortunate, but I’ve found those situations to be very rare.

The e-mail stated that this change had come at the request of a player, leading me to believe that there was some parent at some level of competition that was acting like a fool. I’m fairly confident that it wasn’t me.

As uncomfortable a conversation that I would imagine that to be, I think that the coaches involved in that game should have taken that parent aside and talked to them. Further occurrences could lead to the removal of that child from the team, an unfortunate result that I would hope any reasonable parent would try their best to avoid.

I tried, I really did, and I think it was the quietest I’ve been as a spectator of any sporting contest that I’ve ever attended outside of a PGA golf tournament and even at that I went as nuts as anybody when Notah Begay dropped a twenty five foot birdie putt on the final hole to win.

My daughter is six, playing a sport she’s not very familiar with, and she’s busting her butt, hustling every play, getting better every week. All these girls are. I can give them high fives and words of praise at halftime and after the game but is that really all that fun for anybody, all that exciting to little girls that deserve to be cheered, need that encouragement?

I’ll bite my lip, do my best to tone it down a bit, try and honor the league’s wishes as best I can but if a “silent sideline” is really the result that is ultimately desired I’m probably going to need a muzzle.




10 thoughts on “A Silent Sideline”

  1. Great post. I’m totally with you. Encouragement is desperately needed, especially when mistakes can and eventually do, happen. Being a father and a once, longtime player of youth soccer, I know that shame is a silent monster. Once a mistake is made on the field of play, only outside support can lift that player back up. That’s what the coach and we the parents are there for – during and after the game. “It’s just an oops” , “it’s a game”, “don’t let it get you down,” “you’ll get it back”… all the encouraging words we parents are able to shout to not just our kids, but also the kids on both sides of the field. Taking that ability out of the game, is wrong and potentially disastrous – making kids not want to play anymore because they feel ashamed at a mistake made. Being the coaches kid, I also know that the coach is responsible for the kids and the parents. It may be difficult, but a coach has to be able to confront abusive parents when needed. I wish you well and hope you are able to send a reply to the league stating your case. I’m sure there are others who feel the same.

    1. I’m waiting to see if this was a one time experiment or a new policy. The e mail referred to it as “silent sideline weekend” but was drafted in a way that made it seem like an ongoing rule. Our usual coach was out of town so I wasn’t able to get clarification. Thanks for reading and your thoughts Billy

  2. I spent years on the sidelines with my older kids watching football encouraging them is vital great read mate Thank you for linking to #ThatFridayLinky Please come back next week

  3. This is so hard, Jeremy. It would be hard to control normal rooting! Someone must be out of line, and as Michael said one bad apple don;t spoil the whole bunch…. BTW, your daughter is adorable! <3 #ablogginggoodtime

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