Is yelling at officials in youth sports a waste of time?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 4/15/2015

Yelling at youth sports officials seems to be the norm these days.

I was reminded of this last weekend at a volleyball tournament when the officials made a questionable call. As the coach, officials and team captain conferred, one mom kept yelling at the officials, telling them what to do. She did it over and over and over again.

Aside from the fact that it was annoying, I wondered what the officials were thinking. Did they even hear her?

I asked readers: Is yelling at officials in youth sports acceptable behavior? Here are some of their thoughts:

  •  “No, I don’t think it is. It just shows kids a bad attitude. We all make mistakes, and things can happen that a ref or ump just don’t see.”
  • “I’ve been a player, coach and ref in various sports, and I will say that until you put on the zebra stripes and try to keep a group of kids under control, you have no business yelling at the refs.”
  • “It’s interesting that parents who’ve never even played a particular sport complain about bad officiating and how they could do a better job themselves. Do it, then. Stop pitching a fit and pick up a whistle.”
  • “Nope. If those parents are so smart, maybe they should officiate themselves.”
  • “No. I have spent countless hours at youth sports, and parents who yell, I believe, have no idea what a bad example they’re setting.”

It’s a waste of energy

Youth sports blogger Bob Cook said parents need to understand that the level of officiating can be no better than the level of play: “So if you’re expecting NBA-level refs at a fifth-grade basketball game, you’re due to be disappointed.”

He explained that parents have no right to yell at officials and said that, “parents who yell at officials tend to be general pains in the (butt) to players and coaches. You as a parent are not making your kid any better by sending the signal that any failures are because of a bad call. In fact, you train your kid to be as big of a pain as you are.”

Yes, there are bad calls, but the bottom line is this: Yelling at the officials in youth sports does absolutely nothing to influence their calls. If you have a complaint about the officiating, there are better ways to handle the problem.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.