As a teacher, coach, father and sports fan for the past 25 years, I’ve developed a true disdain for the toxic sports fan in school and recreational sports. As my junior daughter (my youngest of three children) is finishing up her last two years in high school, I find myself more aware of these individuals (and sometimes groups) as I watch her sporting events. Usually, I play prevent defense by staying away from our own toxic fans.
However, it is nearly impossible to hide from these toxic fans, as they are loud and often in close quarters with the small arenas we play in. They will question everything from the coach’s decision-making on who to play, how much they play and strategies they implore during a game. They will question many officials’ calls and sometimes all of them. Worst of all, they will criticize the young children playing the game.
Not all coaches are great. Not all officials are great. Not all players are great. However, I can honestly say, that I have never seen a coach “try” to lose, an official try to make bad calls or a player try to make mistakes. The reality is that every coach, official and player has an ability level that will not be the same for any two individuals. Keep in mind, these are not professionals, just people that wanted to coach, officiate or play a sport.
If you do not approve of the coach, your child has the right to not have to play for that coach. If you do not agree with the calls from the official, that is the coaches' job to address, not the fans. If you do not approve of a player’s performance, you have absolutely NO right to say that out loud. I wish I had answers to solve this ongoing problem in school and recreational sports. Should we have zero tolerance? Is questioning one call or coach too much? How about three? Maybe 10? You can see that there is no clear-cut line. Maybe one fan will read this letter and change the way they act. In the end, the only thing that really matters is whether or not your child had a good experience playing sports. Will your child remember you being positive to everyone around them or yelling in the stands at every decision, call and play? You have a choice.