The Bully on the Sidelines

6 Bullies frequently found in youth sports

soccer mom yelling at ref

When it comes to bullying in sports, often the first things that come to mind are coaches that bully players. Probably second on the list is the player that bullies other players. But we often forget about parents of athletes that also bully. Whether it is from the sidelines or behind the scenes, these parents make youth sports challenging. Check out this list of six bullies to see if you recognize any of the parents from your kid’s team.

Gossips. These parents are the ones who say mean things about other people’s kids. For instance, they might criticize their abilities, their contributions to the team and even their personal lives. They also are the parents that grumble about playing time or mumble biting comments when there is a mistake on the field or the court. These parents also are notorious for gossiping about everything from a coach’s personal life to another parent’s divorce. They are divisive in almost everything they do and wreak havoc on the team.

Mean moms. Just like high school mean girls, these moms are not only appearance-focused but they also are status-focused. As a result, they are concerned with how their kids look, how they play and how much time on the field they get, because anything less than perfect is a poor reflection on them. They also may incessantly nag or make negative comments. And when these moms talk to others, they talk about people in a mocking and demeaning way, even other players.

These moms also are obsessed with the opinions of others and will ridicule their kids for not living up to their expectations. They also say mean things about other kids; and if they perceive another player as a threat to their child’s status or position, they have no qualms about attacking the player relationally or spreading rumors to eliminate the threat.

They may even lie to the coach about other players in an attempt to gain more favor their child.

Demeaning Dads. These are the dads that belittle their own children. Some even go so far as to reduce their kids to tears. They yell, scream and berate their kids for how they are playing. They also are not above publicly humiliating their kids in front of the entire team. These dads also will yell and say rude things about other kids as well, but most of their focus is usually on their own child. They demand perfection and when it is not achieved, they have very little impulse control.

Clique-y Parents. These parents have big egos and do not socialize with everyone on the team. They are often confident and condescending and usually belong to an exclusive group or clique. They are popular, rule the team and everyone wants to be their friend. But they usually only allow a select few into their little group. As a result, they are notorious for only inviting a few others to outside events like dinner after a match and exclude everyone else that does not meet their standards. These parents also exude a sense of entitlement. Sometimes this sense of entitlement stems from their child’s abilities, their financial contributions to the team or their relationship with the coaching staff.

Troublemakers. Typically, these parents take games way too seriously. They also severely lack sportsmanship and are usually the first ones ejected from the gymnasium or the field for poor sportsmanship. For instance, they often escalate the tension during the competition to the point that they exchange words or get into arguments with parents from other teams. They may even scream at the other coaches and players or accuse them of cheating. In some cases, their altercations with others even become physical. Suddenly, instead of focusing on the game, everyone is watching the shouting match on the sidelines.

Referee reprimanders. Refereeing youth sporting matches is a thankless job. It is impossible to make every call and catch every infraction. As a result, someone is always upset with the refs. Yet, there are still those parents that scream and yell at the referee about every call. They sometimes even badger the refs throughout an entire match. And when they do so, they create a hostile environment that makes everyone around them uncomfortable.  Many times it is the lack of control over the situation that gets these parents upset. As a result, when they yell at or correct the ref, they are grappling for control over a game that is not going quite the way they had hoped. And they believe by intimidating the ref they will regain control of the situation and help their team win.

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