Fans' View

Fans’ View: Screams from the sideline — Get up! Get up!

Photo: Earl Gardner

How many times have we screamed “Get up!” at MLS players who we feel are drama queens, diving in the box after tripping over their own feet? I remember hollering that at Landon Donavon when the Galaxy came to PPL Park and he took  a dive right outside the box.

Last season, I found myself yelling that while watching my 9-year-old play. Not actually at my child — who I believe should continue to play unless blood is drawn — but at a player on the opposing team. I felt like he had taken a second dive in the box trying to draw a PK. What I did not realize was that his dad was the guy running the flag on my side.

I am not proud of that moment, and yes, my husband did intervene before the kid’s father pummeled me. I realized the error of my ways, apologized to the father and left, slinking away to the car in embarrassment.

How could I, a reasonably calm mother of two, come to the point where I’m losing my cool and yelling at 9-year-olds like I yell at grown men?

My conclusion? I get too emotionally wrapped up watching the game.

Whether I’m watching in a bar, on my couch, at PPL Park or at a community field, I can’t stop myself from yelling. Whether it is to encourage  (“great save” or “nice pass”) or out of frustration  (“go to the ball” or  “shoot dammit!”), I am a very vocal spectator. My favorite phrase used to be “RUN, (insert kid’s name here), RUN!” I’m not sure that it ever created the outcome I desired, but for some reason it made me feel better. My eldest finally pulled me aside last year and asked me to stop. He confirmed that it does not, in fact, make him run any faster.

Hypocritically, I can’t stand listening to other people do the same thing I do — yell at their kids or scream at Union players. There are always parents coaching from the sidelines. I feel bad for the kids when they are not sure who to listen to: Do I do what coach is telling me or what my Dad is yelling? Often, you see them freeze in place in a moment of indecision. After my short stint playing last spring, I have a new respect for any player trying to synthesize all the information coming at him and then making a split second decision. Parents’ screams from the sidelines should not be part of that data.

I have learned that, when I go to my kids’ games, I need find a place to watch far away where no one can hear me, including my children. I keep my comments to myself, especially around other parents. I attempt to cheer for the good on both sides of the play. I try to enjoy the game and not tell the players what they should be doing, even its just “Run, Paul, run!”

A friend shared this article, “How to watch your kid’s game without being a jerk,” just after I started writing this post. It was a little humbling to realize I have violated a few of the nine tips, such as No. 2, not trash talking the other players (see paragraph two of this article) and No. 3 (Run, Paul, run). On a positive note, I have never trashed the coach or the referee. I do take the time to thank refs because I think that is a thankless job. I think not harassing the ref should be No. 10 on the list, but that’s another article.

I have to remember that watching my kids is not about me, but about them.  We should be encouraging them while asking them to put their best effort. That is all that should matter, not the final score.

That said, I find it easier to swallow as a mom than as a Union fan. Score goals and win dammit, my boys in blue!


  1. I love it! Glad there seems to be a culture shift where more and more parents are realizing that screaming from the sidelines does not help their children. But it sure is fun to do it to the big boys, huh!?
    Your comments aren’t half as bad as many I’ve heard, like “Timmy, pay attention or get off the field!” [not from Timmy’s own parent but another…and Timmy was 6]. I’m a firm believer that parents should have to receive some type of training before the start of every season, and if they violate the rules, should be removed from the sideline.

  2. Spot on. When my kids first started out, I also became too wrapped up in my kids’ games as a parent. After several years of watching my kids grow up on the pitch, I’ve mellowed out to the point where all I do now is clap and nothing else. Now, the fascinating thing is, my youngest daughter who is now in HS has told me she knows it is me when I clap. She says she is able to pick out the sound of my clapping over all the other noise. If a kid can do that, then that’s all we need to do as parents to cheer on our kids during a game.

  3. Great article, Staci! I’ve seen way too often a kid who freezes because dad is yelling one thing, and coach taught something else. I’ve also seen a kid get hit with a yellow card because Dad reminded her, “Don’t let her push you around like that! Push back!” The kid did – placing both hands firmly in the middle of the opponent’s back and shoving hard. Bam! Yellow card, and now Dad is pissed off and the kid is confused.
    When I’m coaching (soccer or basketball) I try not to give refs a hard time, though sometimes that’s an impossible mission. I do make an effort to thank them after the game.
    Good stuff, and I hope more parents – including me! – remember that shouting instruction doesn’t help their kid perform better. Encouragement is good. Cheering good plays on both sides is a great way to teach sportsmanship. Yelling about what the player should be doing? Not so helpful.

  4. Great post, every parent should have to read that article that you linked to.

    My personal pet peeve is the yelling of instructions to the players, especially if it’s a parent who doesn’t really understand the sport. I was at my niece’s match once and this one parent from the other team thought that the key to soccer was constantly passing the ball and not dribbling at all. So the guy was just yelling “pass it, pass it…) to a bunch of 8 year olds. Not only was he overshouting his daughter’s coach, he was also discouraging his team from taking players on and learning a key skill of the game.

  5. awesome article. except everybody trashes the ref. its peyton. paul’s friend. u at the game sat

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