Dear Parents,

After much research, thought and counsel with those involved in youth sports over the years, we conducted a long evaluation on the reasons why a lot of parents in youth soccer feel they are entitled to step-in and address game officials, other coaches, players or parents, typically in a “not-so-kind” fashion, and we have concluded that the primary reason is triggered by a natural tendency for parents to be “protective” of their children.

Unfortunately, there is no system at this time (2019) that A), acknowledges the need for parents to be protective of their kids within the game; B) there is not set parameters to clearly instruct parents how to properly address their concerns regarding their child’s safety, and C) there is no clear set of consequences towards parents behaviors in a game, other than asking a parent to leave after the officials have been abused for a while.

In general, parents are never held responsible for their behavior, and it is typical for organizations to hold the coach directly responsible for the behavior of the parents on a team. With that in mind and the fact that at the Patriots program, we as coaches have to be responsible for parent’s behavior, we have created this policy which is implemented for the Patriots Program.

In it, we are addressing the two primary points:

A: The right for parents to be concerned for their child’s safety and parameters to properly deal with those situations.

B: Set rules of engagement and consequences for failure to behave in a civilized manner and follow proper procedures in the event a parent feels their child is endangered during a soccer game.

Policy on Parents’ rights should they feel their child safety is a concern.

  1. Parents do have the right to be concerned for their child/player’s safety, and should voice that concern immediately and directly to either of the coaches, but NEVER directly to the game officials.
  2. Coaches may be addressed immediately by A) Asking the team manager to address the issue with the coaches, B), If the team manager is not available, by walking around the field to the coaches nearest corner without interfering with the game and in a respectful manner call the coaches attention so that they may come to you and address your concerns, C) by calling/texting coaches directly, even during a game if the concern is a safety issue, and requesting coaches to talk and address your concerns.
  3. If a parent feels after addressing their concern to the coaches and allowing a reasonable time for action, that no effective response, or course of action was taken to protect their child/player, parents have the right to officially ask for their child/player to be removed from a particular game they feel is too rough or physical for their child/player to handle safely.
  4. Because Patriots teams will typically always play up in age to have more meaningful competition, parents should immediately voice their concern if at any given time they feel their child should not participate in a game or event.
  5. No player will be “punished”, or sanctioned, if in the opinion of the parents, playing in a game, regardless of the team’s opposing level or age, is not safe for their child or player, but parents should inform coaches of any concern as soon as it is possible so that proper planning by the coaches can be carried out.

Zero Tolerance behavior and consequences for addressing officials in any manner.

  1. In the Patriots program, there is a zero tolerance towards parents addressing game officials (referees), parents from opposing teams, or players, in any way or manner. This includes direct or indirect statements no exceptions.
  2. This Patriots policy will be made known to the referees prior to each and every game, so that they are aware and can notify us, the coaches, of any verbal interaction from Patriots parents, regardless of the intention or the content of the interaction. Zero Tolerance!
  3. Any parent choosing to engage in a verbal interaction with any of the officials, or disrespectfully towards parents and players of the opposing teams, will be automatically asked to leave the “touch line” for the remainder of the game by the coaches, and will be given an additional 1 game suspension which will prevent such parent from being on the touch line for the team’s next game. This consequence is in direct correlation to the sanctions a coach or players are subjected to, should they be asked to leave a game or red carded in the case of a player. In essence, parents are being held to measure up to the same standards of behavior and sportsmanship as coaches and players.
  4. Should a parent of a Patriots player feel compelled to “ignore” the sanction for their interaction with an official during a game, their child will be removed from the playing field until such parent has left the touch line and is either at the fence line of the field or at the parking lot, whichever situation applies to any given field.
  5. Should a parent, that was asked to leave a game, ignore the additional one game touch line suspension for the team’s next game, their player will not be entered into the field of play until such parent has left the touch line as described in point 4 above.
  6. Any parent that willingly chooses to engage with game officials, or be disrespectful to coaches, parents and players, regardless of the event or competition for a second offence, will be asked to no longer be present at the remainder of the games during the season of the occurrence, this includes tournaments.
  7. Should a parent choose to ignore the sanctions from a second occurrence, the only other form of sanction left to the coaches will be to officially suspend and release the player from the program without exceptions.

I have held conversations with the league executives here in Reno, and there is an understanding that parents do have rights as we explore the typical issues parents voiced as to why they felt compelled to address officials when the un-sportsmanship behavior has been observed in the past.

The main reason why parents have been either abusive or confrontative towards officials in the past, is because parents feel the officials are there to protect their kids, and in any given game or circumstance, parents may feel that has not happened. This typically creates an environment where parents “feel” they have to act, however inappropriate that may be.

So, understanding that parents do feel they have a valid issue, and in an effort to create an environment where parents can act appropriately should they feel the safety of their kids is not being observed, we are enacting this policy so that there is a path for parents to voice their concerns.

In writing this policy, it is my hope that by NOT having a drastic “one-strike” measure, such as banning a parent for the rest of a season (which I have done with previous teams in the past), that the parents see the benefit of holding parents to the same standards and sanctions as a coach or player would be held, should they act inappropriately.

It is also my hope that by detailing the parent’s rights and actions they can take, in relation to a concern for their child’s safety, that parents feel their concern and voice will be addressed, in a civilized manner, and that if their concerns are not addressed, that they know they have the right to act accordingly and remove their child/player from the situation they are concerned about. But in the same token, I want to be clear that not because a parent “feels” their child’s safety is an issue, it gives them the right to be abusive towards referees, use antagonistic behavior, or be a bully altogether.

This is an internal Patriots Program Policy and is not enforced by the league or any other entity, but rather, it is enforced by the common sense of the Patriots parents, players, and coaches together, so that the players, which are a fantastic group, can continue to learn and grow in the sport.

But all that said, I know there are opinions in favor and against a “ground-breaking” policy such as this, and ultimately, some parents may feel this “zero tolerance” is not for them.  

All those parents, players and coaches involved in the Patriots program, pride ourselves in being at the forefront of creating a proper community and public environment for the players to grow in. It is our hope that people from other organizations, not just our own, feel compelled to use the same kind of resolve

Coach John