This fall, the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association gave a mandate to all competitive youth league: Stop parents from yelling on the sideline.
It was called “Silent September” but the initiative has been so successful, many leagues are continuing to keep parents in check.
“I was like, OK, they’re going to have to put duck tape on my mouth,” said Kristy Joyce, a mother of three soccer players.
Joyce and other passionate parents admit, they’ve struggled with the new silent sideline state initiative.
“Staying quiet is not my style. I bought this chair because my wife bought it, but I have never sat in it, it’s not my style,” said Charles Crawford with a laugh. His son Matteo plays soccer.
Still, Rafe Mauran, the head of the Carolina Football Club in Spartanburg, says the goal of “Silent September” has been so positive for players, this league is extending it to a “silent season.”
“We want to make sure that we create an environment here where the kids feel that they can come and they’re not being yelled at constantly. And the second reason is to help with the referee retention rate,” said Mauran.
Many of those refs are young teens themselves and not prepared to police parents.
So how is something like this enforced? It starts with the coach speaking to the parent, then the program director, then the executive director, and if it gets bad enough, it goes all the way to the state rules and compliance head, who can impose fines or suspension.
Joyce admits, the new spectator experience has made her calmer.
“We’re all better off at trying to be quiet and just being positive,” she said.
And coaches say players seem to be enjoying the game more without the parental pressure.
Burns Davison, the head of the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association says the initiative stemmed from “poor parent behavior” which included a parent pushing a referee last year.
The association has had to ban parents from games in the past, but says, so far this season, there has been no need for punitary action.
For more on the silent sideline project click here.