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Via The Offside, we find some Italian youth soccer player­s who came up with a new way to get their parents attention about inappropriate touchline behavior:

It’s not just in the US that parents scream and yell, attack coaches and officials, and generally just embarrass the hell out of their kids (in addition to, you know, breaking laws) at youth sporting events. It happens in Italy, too, and one club has finally had enough. No, they’re not making rules about silence on the sidelines, or initiating cheering-only leagues. Instead, they went on strike. The kids at Unione Sportiva Ponte a Elsa were apparently so scarred by the behavior of parents at their matches that they asked for something to be done, and the best solution, it was decided, was a strike. During the club Christmas party last week, the strike was announced, and members of the three teams that refused to play – the club’s eight, nine, and ten-year-olds – appeared before their parents holding banners that said things like “No to bad language, Yes to kids having fun,” and “Parents: don’t argue, let us play.” Ouch.

Interesting approach and probably a very effective one. But the Guardian article makes it sound like this was a separate event (they were walking on a stage with signs or something). Heck with that – I’d have pulled it off on match day. Kids take the pitch with signs and sit down with them for 20 minutes :)

I’ve said it before – all too often the behavior of the parents is directly related to the behavior of the coach. Not always – but when I’ve seen entire sidelines go out of control vs the one nut job stalking the touchline, you can bet the coach is chiming right into the chorus. To me, if a sideline is out of control – then the coach isn’t doing part of their job. Like it or not, we’re responsible for all aspects of our team including parent behavior. It’s awkward. Nobody likes to do it. But if you have a parent who is out of control – then you need to attempt to address it.

Leagues have to do their part as well. CASL of Raleigh, NC did an excellent job of addressing some recent problems including public service ads on local radio stations. If you have certain teams where the parents are out of control, then something needs to be done to nip it in the bud. Otherwise you’ll be left with concerned parents or coaches taking matters into their own hands and having to do something like this group of kids did. It should never get to that point.

And no, Silent Sunday’s aren’t the answer, they only mask the problem.