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Parent, adult fan behavior is one of biggest challenges

Dear Editor:

Inappropriate adult behavior at high school athletic events across the country has reached epidemic proportions and South Dakota is not immune. When more than 2,000 high school athletic directors were asked in a national survey what they like least about their job, 62.3 percent said, “dealing with aggressive parents and adult fans.”

Men and women who wear the black and white stripes agree. Almost 80 percent of officials quit after the first two years and cite unruly parents as the reason. There is a growing shortage of high school officials in South Dakota and in some sports, the shortage is severe. No officials means no games.

If you attend an athletic event, you can help by following these guidelines:

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

2) Don’t live your life 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 you doing it for them. High school athletes learn how to become more confident, independent and capable 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.

5) Participating in a high school sport is not about getting a college scholarship. According to the NCAA, only about two percent of high school athletes are awarded a sports scholarship and the total value is about $4,500 per year.

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.

Dr. Karissa Niehoff, National Federation of State High School Associations executive director and Dr. Dan Swartos, South Dakota High School Activities Association executive director

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