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: 3/21/23

By Jon Ross
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties

March 21, 2023

This final edition for the 2022-23 school year reviews all four MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals and highlights some of the top performances from Boys Basketball Regional play. 

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 part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Listen to this week's show by Clicking Here.

Past editions

March 15: Ice Hockey Finals review, Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals highlights - Listen
March 8:
Individual Wrestling Finals review, Competitive Cheer Finals highlights - Listen
March 1:
Midland heroes, Team Wrestling Finals review - Listen
Feb. 22:
Basketball Districts begin, Finals cap Upper Peninsula swimming & diving season - Listen
Feb. 15:
Hockey tournament changes, MHSAA social media - Listen
Feb. 8:
Winter Postseason Starts, Scholar-Athlete Award - Listen
Feb. 1:
Kent City coach Jill Evers, "Officials Appreciation Week" - Listen
Jan. 25:
Historic hoops wins, Michigan's national ranking in sports participation - Listen
Jan. 18:
Brad Bush joins MHSAA, Al DeMott sets coaching record - Listen
Jan. 4:
Winter Championships, Officials Recruitment - Listen
Nov. 23:
8-Player Football Finals, Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving Finals, Volleyball Finals - Listen
Nov. 18:
Concussion Myths, Navea Gauthier's record-setting Shelby volleyball season - Listen
Nov. 11:
Lower Peninsula Cross Country, Boys Soccer Finals review - Listen
Nov. 2:
Football Playoffs Week 1 notables, Fall 2022 championships and broadcasts - Listen
Oct. 26:
Football Playoffs pairings selection, Upper Peninsula Cross Country Finals - Listen
Oct. 19:
Sunday Selection Show, Lower Peninsula Girls Golf & Boys Tennis Finals - Listen
Oct. 12:
25th Women In Sports Leadership Conference highlights - Listen
Oct. 5:
Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals champions, Rockford's Anna Tracey - Listen
Sept. 28:
MHSAA Sportsmanship Summits return, Owosso's Macy Irelan - Listen
Sept. 21:
MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Marquette's Maddy Stern - Listen
Sept. 14:
MHSAA record books, Detroit Renaissance's Kaila Jackson - Listen
Sept. 7:
Sports Participation rebounding, Paw Paw's Paige Miller - Listen
Aug. 31:
Michigan Power Ratings and soccer seeding, Fenton's Gracie Olsen - Listen
Aug. 24:
Redesigned, key dates and how to watch football in 2022 - Listen