Parents, Make a Pledge

October 24, 2012

By Scott Westfall
MSU Institute for the Study of Youth Sports

NOTE: This is the second of a two-part viewpoint explaining the importance of coaches and parents setting proper examples for young athletes in their treatment of game officials. Click to read Part 1.

From time to time, even the most well-intentioned parents yell at officials things they are not proud of later.

As the head coach, it is essential to communicate expectations at the annual preseason parent meeting. Let parents know you want this to be classy program, and you need their help. Inform them that you, your assistant coaches, and the players (their children) will not be yelling at officials, and that you would be grateful if they would do the same.

Let them know that although other teams and their fans might holler at the officials, this team will be above the fray.

Encourage parents to applaud players from both sides. While they undoubtedly want your team to win, it is a sign of class to applaud the opposition for a good effort and/or performance at the end of the contest. In addition, ask your parents to sign a Parent Pledge Form stating that they will hold themselves to a higher standard. See an example below:

I.                     I pledge to respect the sport. I understand the importance of setting a good example for my child. No matter what others may do, I will show respect for all involved including coaches, players, opposing coaches, opposing players, opposing fans and officials. I understand that officials make mistakes. If the official makes a bad call against our team, I will respect the sport and remain silent. 

Initials:    ________                Initials:  ________

II.                   I pledge to contribute to a positive team culture.  I will not be the parent in the stands or behind the scenes who puts down the kids or the team. I understand this creates a negative atmosphere and can damage a team’s culture. If I have any problem, I pledge to either bring it to the coach with a solution-oriented mindset, or choose to remain silent. In either case, I will contribute only in a positive way to my child’s team culture.

Initials:  ________          Initials:  ________

After instituting this practice, the first season might seem like more of an experiment. The second season may become a work in progress. But by the time the kids and parents have been in the program for three and four years, it will have become the norm and soon a tradition that is gladly passed down to the new families in the program.

The mantra of your parents will change, and they will take pride in acting differently than what they see at other schools. Other teams will see your parents stand up and applaud participants from both sides during wins and losses, and this act of class will become your team’s identity.

Respecting authority is essential in any society. This respect must be given to judges, policemen and school principals, to teachers, coaches and even referees.

Reinstituting this respect for officials is going to be a challenge, but a challenge that is worthwhile. A coach has the power to transform a program, which will in turn affect the way assistant coaches, parents, and fans conduct themselves.

In the end, the individuals who will receive the greatest benefit are the ones you are doing your job for in the first place – the kids.

Scott Westfall has spent the last 10 years as a teacher, coach, and athletic director in Fort Collins, Colo. He currently is working on his Doctorate at Michigan State University, with an emphasis in Sport Psychology and Athletic Administration, and assisting the MHSAA with its student leadership programs. Westfall is a former athlete who participated in football, wrestling, tennis and cross country at the high school level, and rugby at the collegiate level. He can be reached at [email protected].

This Week in High School Sports: 3/20/24

By Jon Ross
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties

March 20, 2024

This week's edition reviews the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals and awards Game Balls to high achievers in Girls Basketball Regionals.

MI Student AidThe 5-minute program each week includes feature stories from or network affiliates, along with "Be the Referee," a 60-second look at the fine art of officiating.

"This Week in High School Sports" is powered by MI Student Aid, a division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP).

Listen to this week's show by Clicking Here.

Previous Editions

March 13: Hockey, Gymnastics, Boys Swim & Dive Finals review, Tyrone Wheatley - Listen
March 6:
Individual Wrestling, Competitive Cheer & Bowling Finals review - Listen
Feb. 28:
Team Wrestling, Girls & Boys Skiing Finals review - Listen
Feb. 21:
Boys Basketball Tournament preview, Upper Peninsula Swimming & Diving Finals review - Listen
Feb. 14:
Saginaw High/Arthur Hill boys basketball rivalry, Student Advisory Council - Listen
Feb. 7:
MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Charles E. Forsythe Award honoree - Listen
Jan. 31:
Girls sports participation, MHSAA Wrestling Tournament schedule - Listen
Jan. 24:
MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership Conference, Hillman basketball's Trenton Taratuta - Listen
Jan. 10:
Doug Towler's ice hockey coaching record, 2023-24 officials registration news - Listen
Jan. 3: 
MHSAA Girls & Boys Basketball Tournament schedules, Finals dates for all winter sports - Listen
Nov. 22: 
MHSAA Girls Volleyball, 8-Player Football and Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving Finals reviews - Listen
Nov. 15: Football record breakers, 2022-23 MHSAA postseason attendance - Listen
Nov. 8:
MHSAA Boys Soccer, Lower Peninsula Cross Country Finals reviews - Listen
Nov. 1:
MHSAA Girls Volleyball Tournament schedule, Football Playoffs first-round review - Listen
Oct. 26:
Lower Peninsula Girls Golf Finals, Boys Tennis Finals review - Listen
Oct. 18:
MHSAA Football Playoff selection, Bear Lake football coach Sam Mullet - Listen
Oct. 11:
Upper Peninsula soccer, MHSAA sports participation excels nationally - Listen
Oct. 4:
Jackson Lumen Christi's Herb Brogan, MHSAA Sportsmanship Summits - Listen
Sept. 24:
All-woman football officiating crew, Powers North Central's record winning streak ends - Listen
Sept. 21:
35th MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Grass Lake QB Brayden Lape - Listen
Sept. 14:
Athletic director education, MHSAA video library - Listen
Sept. 7:
Adjustments to 11-player football, boys soccer Finals schedules - Listen
Aug. 31:
New out-of-state opponents rules, football record book updates - Listen
Aug. 24: coverage ramps up, "Made in Michigan" tells us where they are now - Listen