14 Things Parents Need to Stop Doing at Their Kids' Sporting Events

Liz Alterman | Feb 14, 2017 Big Kid

sports parents
Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock; design by Anne Meadows

Sport parents are often in a league of their own. From arguing with the ref, to their notorious armchair quarterbacking, competitive moms and dads can rub other fans the wrong way. We asked parents to share the habits they'd most like their fellow sports enthusiasts to stop doing ... and you may find that their answers are so relatable, you'd swear they were on the sidelines with you! 

Take a look at some of these moms' and dads' biggest pet peeves. If you're guilty of one or more, give this list some consideration before the next game!

  • Forcing Kids to Play With Injuries

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    "A mother on my son's soccer team made her son keep playing when he was clearly injured -- he was crying and begging her to take him to the ER. Come to find out he tore a muscle in his leg!" -- Anonymous

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  • Neglecting Siblings

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    "Something that irks me are parents that show up to their child's sporting events along with their younger children, only to neglect them. They get so wrapped up in cheering for their child in the game that they seem to completely forget that they have toddlers with them on the verge of being lost in the bleachers.

    If you're going to get so involved in the game that you forget you have other kids, do them (and everyone else) a favor and hire a babysitter for the afternoon. That way we don't have to look out for your kids and make sure they don't become an Amber Alert because you're too focused on the game." -- Jennifer Taylor, founder of the blog Mom Tricks

  • Coaching From the Sidelines

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    "A mom at my kids' c class was really hard on her son. The kid was obviously miserable, didn't want to be there at all, wasn't his thing. But mom insisted and would sit on the sidelines the whole class telling him he could do everything better or try harder. Literally, every exercise he did she'd have something to say, often speaking over or around the instructor. It was over-the-top and had all the parents giving her the side eye. I felt bad for the kid because he just had this look that said he knew he'd never be good enough." -- CafeMom community member egyptian_mommy

  • Barking Out (Bad) Orders

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    "My pet peeve is when parents, who obviously don't understand basketball, yell 'SHOOT!! SHOOT!!' every time their child has the ball. Drives me crazy and I've witnessed it from first grade parents through high school parents." -- Anonymous

  • Not Watching Their Language

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    "There is absolutely NO reason for foul language. None. Zip. Nada. Bobby Knight would be ashamed at some of the things I've witnessed. And what is that going to solve?" asks world-renowned manners and etiquette coach Richie Frieman, author of Modern Manners Guy.

  • Harassing the Ref

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    Continues Frieman: "When we meet the refs, they tell us, 'The team is yours but the court is ours.' I love that. See, they don't care who wins -- at all. They want to ref, help, and leave without anyone threatening them on the walk back to their car. It's improper to accuse the refs of favoriting one side over the other or 'being blind.'"

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  • Chanting and Taunting ... the Kids!

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    Frieman adds, "I have witnessed one time when parents started singing the song, 'Nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey, goodbye!' As well, a friend told me they had parents chanting, 'Warm up the bus, warm up the bus!' -- implying the game was already over so they should just leave. Classy, right? Come on, parents show some restraint."

  • Picking Fights With Fellow Parents

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    Says Frieman, "An embarrassing thing about kids' sports is watching how the parents yell at other parents as if they are rival teams in the NFL or something. Parents are not on the court; they are in the stands. You should only be cheering on your team, not fighting with everyone around you ... and some times literally."

  • Forgetting That Your Kids Are Sponges

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    "Kids pick up on everything. If they see you taunt the refs or players or coaches they will think that's okay. Be a role model and not a maniac. This is about having fun and learning, not 'CRUSHING THE COMPETITION!.' Ugh ... coach parents," Frieman says.

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  • Being Glued to Your Phone

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    One of the things that offends mom Bobbe White is the parents who are talking or texting on their phones during their kids' activities.

    "Why bother even coming?" she asks. 

  • Being Critical of the Coach

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    "If they need to talk to the coach about any issues, do it after the game is over, not before or during," says Bob Bentz, who has been a baseball coach for over 20 years at many levels, from Little League to American Legion and travel teams. "He has other things on his mind then. Remember, he just left work early to get the game and this isn't his full-time job."

    Bob adds: "Discussions about playing time should be handled in the right way. Don't say: 'Why isn't my kid getting more playing time?' Instead, say, 'What can my kid do to earn more playing time?'

    "Get this into your head when it comes to playing time: Coaches don't have favorites. They want to win even more than you do. If your kid isn't playing a lot, it is because the coach doesn't think he's as good as the other players on the team."

  • Recording the ENTIRE Game

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    Another thing that gets to White: recording each and every game. "They'll not ever watch the replay -- and watching through a lens is like not even being there,"  she says.

    Also, you can block someone else's view with that camera in the air the whole time!

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  • Babying Your Player

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    "Don't come running over if your kid falls  -- unless, of course, it is serious. This 'babying' is a pet peeve of my husband's but, of course, I am guilty of doing this too," says self-aware mom Helen Holden.

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  • Forgetting Your Number 1 Job

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    "Be their cheerleader!" says Jacquelyn Oldham, director of curriculum at The Little Gym International and mom of two. "At a game, your number one job as a parent is to be your child's biggest cheerleader regardless of how they perform on the field. If there are areas that you think your child could improve on in the game, wait to share your feedback and remember to focus on the positives first. For example, share three things that are positive, and one thing they could improve on."

    Oldham adds, "What's most important is that they know that no matter how they did in the game, it doesn't change your love for them!" 

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