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Parents Behaving Badly in Kids’ Sports

The issue of verbal and physical abuse is a problem in high school sports around the country. As an example, a 22 old-year-old man from Polk County, FL, disagreed with the umpire and beat him up. More and more referees are leaving. A study conducted by the National Association of Sports of Officials discovered that adult misbehavior contributed to 75% of high school referees quitting their jobs.

How did we get here?

Psychologist Richard Weissbourd says, “I think it’s because sometimes parents are wanting to compensate for their shortcomings or live out their own fantasies about sports. I think it’s the degree to which we are becoming less communal and more tribal and more individual.”

He goes on to offer us a solution to this prevailing problem. It starts with promoting the value of being part of a community and the importance of both winning and losing. Weissbourd, a secular psychologist, recognizes the benefits of religious practices, instilling values like sacrifice, gratitude, morality, empathy, and the obligation to care for each other. The competitiveness of sport ought to be a catalyst for both personal growth and building community.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Scripture teaches us to use discernment when making judgment calls and to deal with our faults first before judging others (Matt. 7:1-6).


Hadas Brown, “Out of bounds: Parent behavior crossing the line at youth sporting eventsm,” WESH.com (11-19-19); Colleen Walsh, “Harvard psychologist discusses the problem of angry parents and coaches,” Harvard.Edu (11-18-19)

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