Bad behavior by parents in the stands at high school sporting events has actually contributed to a shortage of officials. Now the National Federation of State High School Associations is offering a short educational video that suggests 10 tips parents can use to develop and maintain a calm, respectful demeanor at games.
“We know it’s an emotional situation,” said Dan Schuster, NFHS director of educational services. “Whether you’re a parent, guardian, grandparent, aunt, uncle or neighbor, you have an emotional attachment to someone playing in that contest or performing on that stage. We wanted a relatable, quick-hitting video that gets people to think about their actions before they attend an event and creates expectations for how they should behave.”
NFHS is offering “The Parent Seat” video in a number of different formats. It can be shared on social media or downloaded directly from the NFHS Learning Center website.
“We were looking to do something different,” Schuster said. “The NFHS Learning Center has always really been about courses, and it’s been a very successful initiative for us. But in today’s world, where brevity and social media sharing are crucial aspects of communication, we wanted something for parents that fit that profile.”
The video’s list of suggestions consists of both mental and physical activities for preparing for an event, as well as ways to avoid negative outbursts while attending a game or contest.
Trying to “understand the benefits” of participating in high school activities and “embrace the growth and development of your student” headline the thoughts parents can reflect on to promote a healthy, positive mindset for events. Getting some pregame exercise or “participating in a relaxing activity” can be useful methods of relieving stress or pent-up energy, which are often manifested in foul behavior.
“The way parents conduct themselves creates teachable moments for their children – and those go both ways,” Schuster said. “They can be examples of what to do or what NOT to do at events. We want to make sure kids have a positive and memorable experience while competing and sometimes you must show people what that should look like first. Using the items on the list as guidelines starts to create the environment we’re looking for.”
The successful launch of “The Parent Seat” has encouraged Schuster and his staff to begin working on additional videos that address other areas of need within the culture of high school athletics and activities.
“‘The Parent Seat’ was intended as a pilot for a larger series of parent videos, but I believe this idea will go beyond parent education,” Schuster said. “We think the interscholastic community will continue to support these offerings whether they are focused on students, coaches, administrators or any other associated group.”
Schuster hopes viewers will take the video’s messages to heart, and then lead by example for everyone else.
“If we can educate some of these parents, they can rub off on the others,” he said. “If we can eliminate some of those ‘bad actors’ and replace them with ‘good actors,’ suddenly the scene in the bleachers is going to start looking and sounding a lot better. And most importantly, kids can just go out and play without worrying about what mom and dad are doing.”