-- Parents may always mean well, but sometimes their competitiveness can cross the line -- especially when it comes to wanting their kids to perform well in youth sports.
Enter Fire FC, a recreational and competitive youth soccer club for kids aged 4 to 18. The club is encouraging better sportsmanship among players’ parents and trying to bring the fun back into the game with a couple of helpful signs placed around their facilities in Grand Junction, Colo.
The signs read, “Reminders from your child: I’m just a KID. It’s just a GAME. My coach is a VOLUNTEER. The officials are HUMAN. NO college scholarships will be given out today. Thank you and have fun!”
Shaun Howe, Fire FC’s executive director, told ABC News that the way parents acted on the sidelines was pretty concerning when he first came to the program five years ago. Howe said that while there were only a small percentage of problematic parents, the club faced a referee shortage because many of the teens who volunteered to officiate games weren’t comfortable with being “screamed at.”
Howe said the club has been using the signs for about two years, but they went viral recently when a visitor from Wisconsin posted a picture of the sign on Facebook. Clubs from Virginia, New York, and even Argentina and Germany. have since reached out in a show of solidarity with Fire FC.
But have the signs made a difference?
Referee retention in the club has improved, according to Howe, and there’s been a lot of positive feedback from parents.
“Nine out of ten people are really on board,” said Howe, “but I spent most of last week meeting with parents who wanted [the games] to be more competitive. They are well meaning, but competitive doesn’t mean belittling other people.”