New Mexico has seen enough of unruly soccer parents and fans and now the head of the state’s high school athletics association is calling attention to the problem.
In a letter addressed to coaches and athletic directors, New Mexico Activities Association executive director Sally Marquez state describes the situation as a “crisis.”
“In the past two weeks, I have received countless emails about fan behavior in soccer,” begins the letter, which was reported on by the Albuquerque Journal. “Along with a couple of emails from officials who have resigned. We are at a crisis.”
Marquez says obnoxious parents are contributing to the shortage of officials and as a result, games are being cancelled. In the Albuquerque metro area alone, seven varsity and 10 junior varsity matches have been canceled or rescheduled due to a lack of officials in recent weeks.
“I am very concerned that if the behavior of the parents continue (sic), then next year, we will have to cancel more games, especially those games that start at 3:00 or 4:00. The fans are brutal! The cussing and screaming, coupled with the threatening comments has to stop,” Marquez wrote in her letter.
The letter also includes testimony from a former official who suffered abuse from parents while on the job.
“Soccer parents: you are absolutely 100 percent the reason that we have a critical refereeing shortage and games are being canceled left and right,” the official wrote. “And you are at least a part of the reason I’m done here. The most entitled among you are the ones that scream the loudest.”
The anonymous official was said to be a 20-year veteran who had finally had enough.
The NMAA has tried cracking down on the problem in recent years, going so far as to ban fans from some home games.
“It has gotten more caustic,” Dave Lauben, the NMAA’s chief assignor of officials for the central region, said of verbal abuse from fans. “And in certain areas, certain games, it’s dreadful. And it’s hard as a veteran official to watch this. … The parents largely don’t understand the effect they are having.”
For her part, Marquez says the NMAA is resolute in ensuring the fans understand the affect they’re having on the game.
“We’re going to continue to do it until everyone understands that we are serious,” Marquez told the Journal.