In recent years, parental abuse of referees, coaches and other youth sports officials has risen sharply, gaining plenty of public attention. While some leagues have started requiring either parental pledges or even adult educational efforts to allow their children to compete, one Illinois park district has taken the measure even further, all in a very novel way.
As noted by Toronto-based lawyer and general talking head Warren Kinsella, the Hoffman Estates, Ill. Park District has installed a sign next to the rink entrance for the Hoffman Estates ice surfaces that offers up the following rules:
- These are kids
- This is a game
- Parents should cheer for everyone
- Referees are human
- You and your child do not play for the Blackhawks
That is just about perfect, isn’t it? Particularly in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs, where parents tend to be very supportive (usually in a good way but occasionally in an over-the-top way, as you see all over the country).
So far, so good, or so it seems. A quick scan comes up with no incidents involving parents and referees, at least beyond handshakes and the like. In fact, Hoffman Estates has even brought in an agressive anti-bullying policy.
Still, the coup de grace is that sign, which cuts right to the essence of how parents should behave at youth sports events. As Kinsella put it, every rink in Canada should have one of its own.