It has become more common than ever, that we see professionals fighting the referee on TV.

Calls are aggressively disputed, and game officials are verbally harassed.

Professional athletes are role models in sportsmanship and watching them demean the referee begs the question, why can’t the kids?

Disrespecting the rules and the referee are a demonstration of poor sportsmanship, which even the pros can be guilty of. It is the role of coaches and parents to lead by example.

We may not always agree with a call and take it personally when our own kid is the one at the center of the attention.

It is important to remember that referees are qualified experts at their jobs, deserving all of our respect and extension of good sportsmanship.

Referees Deserve Respect

You may think the ref is there to ruin your team's game personally, but they are actually doing their job.

Gratitude should be expressed towards officials, who devote time to help youth sporting events. They have worked hard to earn players, coaches and parents respect, they don’t get their position overnight.

Often times, they will be asked to take several courses during their spare time to refine their knowledge of the rules and emergency preparation.

Referees devote a lot of time to make everyone’s game fair, safe, and fun.

Referees have Reputation

It is common for referees to be well versed in the sport they are officiating.

A good referee will have passion and experience to back up his knowledge.

They have insider knowledge and vision on the field and should be trusted to make the right calls.

Referees call out bad sportsmanship

Even pro athletes don’t get away with poor sportsmanship.

Professional referees will penalize aggressive players, as they do not tolerate disrespect. Youth league referees may not bench your kid for the season, but they won’t put up with poor treatment.

You may find that the ref has a slight bias against the team that is arguing with them rather than the team that plays by the rules.

Setting the Example - Teaching Respect

Respect is an essential part of sportsmanship.

Coaches and parents are both guilty of sometimes disagreeing with the ref on behalf of their athlete’s team.

Remember they are human and doing their job. Approach them with sportsmanlike manners and your athlete will learn by example.

Create a Dialogue

Trash talk and yelling are never sportsmanlike.

Allowing the coach to create conversation makes for a smoother interaction, where both parties can come to an understanding and discuss the call made.

Thank the referee after the game and ask your athlete to do the same.

Treat them with Sportsmanlike Behavior by recognizing the referee and officials as part of the team which will encourage respect.

Like the coach, the referee is there to ensure safe and fun gameplay. They care about the rules and about both teams fairly. They are a necessary part of the game and deserve that appreciation.

They make events possible for your kids to play safely and should be treated with respect.

Create a Welcoming Environment

Home games are an excellent opportunity for athletes and parents to show their gratitude and support.

Creating a safe and welcoming space for referees will make them feel good about participating in your event.

This isn't exclusive to just the referees; welcoming the away team is an excellent display of sportsmanship as well. Ask friends and family in the stands to refrain from booing and jeering. Everyone should take part in respecting those on the field.

It’s Just a Game!

It is not necessary to take anything personally. The referee is not there just to penalize your kid. They are there to help everyone enjoy a game in a safe environment.

Encourage your child to focus on having fun and do their best.

Managing your feelings comes with remembering the element of fun. Anger and disappointment should not be aimed at the referees or coaches.

Remain a positive and supportive voice in the stands-towards your athlete and the referee. Good sportsmanship is taught, through experience and lead by example.

It can be easy to get carried away at any youth sporting event and call out the ref from the stands. Coaches and parents often disagree with the neutral party, that is the referee, which encourages kids to disagree too.

Asking our athletes to respect referees, begins with coaches and parents respecting them as well. Referees are authority figures that are meant to follow the rules and system of the sport.

Like a coach or a parent, it is never acceptable to disrespect an authority figure because you disagree with their decision.

Treating the referee and the rules with respect is part of the game and the responsibility as an athlete and fan.

As coaches and parents, we must encourage the extension of good sportsmanship to every player involved in, including the opposing teams, coaches, and game officials.