How to Deal with Parents with Bad Sportsmanship: 4 Steps
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Set the example by maintaining an encouraging tone with your child.

The screaming parent in the T-ball stands does more than just rub everyone's nerves raw. This unsportsmanlike behavior sets a lousy example for youngsters who are just learning the fundamentals of a sport. When you're dealing with parents with bad sportsmanship, it's important to set some ground rules and then enforce them. Often, this can be a learning opportunity for parents who were apparently never taught how to behave themselves at sporting events.


  1. 1
    Draw up a code of conduct for parents and spectators. Getting parents involved in creating the code makes it more likely that they will play nicely. Common rules might include controlling emotions during practices and games, refraining from shouting to kids from the sidelines and talking to a coach privately after a game finishes. Outline the penalty for unsportsmanlike behavior. This could be a suspension from game attendance for the parent or a suspension from future games for the player.
  2. 2
    Get parents to sign the code of conduct when their kids sign up for a sport. The parents’ signatures confirm understanding and agreement with the rules. Give each parent a signed copy and keep one in team files.
  3. 3
    Give unruly and rude parents one warning if unsportsmanlike behavior erupts. If you hear shouting and screaming, find a time before the parent leaves to warn the parent about the inappropriate outburst. Remind the parent about the signed code of conduct and diplomatically tell him he needs to chill out or he may have a suspension from game attendance.
  4. 4
    Follow through with the suspension if the unruly behavior continues. A person of authority in the system, such as a superintendent or director, should deliver the news privately to the parent. Explain that the unsportsmanlike behavior is negative for kids and teaches the wrong lessons. Instead of focusing on winning and losing, the focus of your program is to learn skills, play hard and have fun. Give the parent details about the games she needs to miss and tell her when she’ll be welcome back to attend games.


  • If a parent is really spouting and becoming ugly, don't hesitate to remove him from the game immediately. Although it's unusual at the preschooler level, a flaming fan may need an official escort from a game to restore the peace.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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