INDIANAPOLIS – Parent and fan behavior continue to be a topic of discussion within the athletic realm. The IHSAA, which has been vocal about the subject in the past, is continuing the conversation with a open dialogue to those who continue to hold themselves in poor conduct at athletic events, both sanctioned by the IHSAA and otherwise.
The following was offered by IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox:
You’ve seen the stories. Maybe you’ve even shared them with your audiences. But highly publicized accounts of adults getting into shouting matches and fist fights at high school and youth league athletic events are just the tip of the iceberg.
In fact, inappropriate adult behavior at high school athletic events has reached epidemic proportion. Examples of it are everywhere. Dozens of high school officials quit every week because they are sick of being verbally abused by adult fans, and confrontations between parents and high school coaches are commonplace. If these trends continue unabated, the changes in high school sports as we know them today will be seismic.
You can help by publishing the attached op‐ed piece. It addresses a topic that is becoming more urgent in our community with every passing day. And it is timely right now, near the beginning of a new school year.
Please know that we would be happy to provide additional information or answer any questions you might have. Feel free to contact either myself or one of my colleagues at any time.
Thank you for your consideration. And thank you for all the ways in which you continue to inform and support our community.
Bobby Cox, Commissioner
Indiana High School Athletic Association, Inc.
The following is co-written by Cox and Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations:
Inappropriate adult behavior at high school athletic events in Indiana has reached epidemic proportion.
When more than 2,000 high school athletic directors were asked in a recent national survey what they like least about their job, 62.3% said it was “dealing with aggressive parents and adult fans.”
And the men and women who wear the black and white stripes agree. In fact, almost 80% of officials quit after the first two years on the job, and unruly parents are cited as the reason why. As a result, there is a growing shortage of high school officials here in Indiana, and in some sports like wrestling, swimming, and track and field, the shortage is severe. No officials means no more games.
If you are a parent attending a high school athletic event this fall, you can help by following these six guidelines:
Act Your Age. You are, after all, an adult. Act in a way that makes your family and school proud.
Don’t Live Your Life Vicariously Through Your Children. High school sports are for them, not you. Your family’s reputation is not determined by how well your children perform on the field of play.
Let Your Children Talk to the Coach Instead of You Doing It for Them. High school athletes learn how to become more confident, independent and capable—but only when their parents don’t jump in and solve their problems for them.
Stay in Your Own Lane. No coaching or officiating from the sidelines. Your role is to be a responsible, supportive parent—not a coach or official.
Remember, Participating in a High School Sport Is Not About Getting a College Scholarship. According to the NCAA, only about 2% of all high school athletes are awarded a sports scholarship, and the total value of the scholarship is only about $18,000.
Make Sure Your Children Know You Love Watching Them Play. Do not critique your child’s performance on the car ride home. Participating in high school sports is about character development, learning and having fun—not winning and losing.
Purchasing a ticket to a high school athletic event does not give you the right to be rude, disrespectful or verbally abusive. Cheer loud and be proud, but be responsible and respectful. The future of high school sports in Indiana is dependent on you.