Thank you for entrusting your child to us, and welcome to Lexington United Soccer Club. We will do everything in our power to make our program a positive experience for players and parents alike. The purpose of this letter is to document a couple guidelines on what is expected with regard to fan behavior on game day. The stress and anxiety that come with competing in a team environment at a young age is natural and, in many ways, healthy if we as adults keep the competition in perspective. It is natural and encouraged for the kids to want to win, but we need to look beyond the wins and losses and instill values of sportsmanship and fair play throughout all our LUSC players. My hope is that all of our teams will have the opportunity to experience both wins and losses, since how we deal with both success and failure helps shape who we are as people.
Here are a couple guidelines we ask parents to follow:
Encourage players, but don’t coach from the sideline. Please enjoy the game and cheer all the players, but do not shout commands to the players (“Shoot”, “pass”, “get the ball”, etc). This is important for several reasons, but most importantly, we need to give players ownership of the game. To develop properly, they need to learn to make decisions on their own. Mistakes will happen, but that is how they learn. You don’t create problem solvers by giving them the answers; you put them in a forum where they learn to solve problems on their own. On a side note, I also ask our coaches to do their best to keep the commentary clear and concise and not to coach the player who is in possession of the ball. That player has enough to worry about with the ball, teammates, and opposition; the last thing he/she needs to worry about is getting information shouted at him/her from the sideline (let alone both sidelines!).
Support the referee. The referee is often the only neutral participant in the event. They are often young and inexperienced, but they provide a necessary service for the club and the league. Mistakes will be made and decisions we don’t agree with will take place, but as parents (and coaches) we need to respect the referee’s decisions and, as my college coach used to say, “Get on with it”. The BAYS league, which LUSC is a member of, has a Zero Tolerance Rule that states:
- No one, except the players, is to speak to the referee during or after the game. Exceptions: Coaches may ask questions before the game, call for substitutions and point out emergencies during the game, or respond to the referee if addressed.
- Absolutely no disputing calls, during or after the game, no remarks to the referee to watch certain players or attend to rough play. NO YELLING at the referee, EVER, and no criticism, sarcasm, harassment, intimidation, or feedback of any kind during or after the game.
- Violators may be ejected and are subject to disciplinary action by the BAYS Sportsmanship Review Committee.
- If coaches or spectators have questions regarding particular calls, rules, or a referee, or wish to give feedback regarding a referee, please contact the LUSC Referee Coordinator listed on the Directory webpage.
Support the coach. All Lexington United Coaches are volunteers and are dedicating many hours each week to ensure the kids have a positive experience. This doesn’t mean you will agree with every decision that is made or mistakes won’t happen, but please respect a 24 hour rule after a game before voicing any complaint or issue with a coach. It’s my experience that the emotions on game day are naturally higher for all involved (coach, player, and parent) and it’s best to let some time pass before voicing any concerns. I prefer to leave it to each coach to set some boundaries on a “best time” to hold a conversation, but I’ve found that after the next practice is often a good time frame to discuss the Saturday match.
Enjoy the games! Having the opportunity to watch your son or daughter compete alongside and against their friends is a wonderful experience. Sports can be a transformative part of a child’s growth and development as long as the all parties involved maintain the perspective that youth sports are about the youth participants.
We believe strongly enough in our philosophy that we wanted to share it with you in writing. We encourage you to attend the games and cheer on your son or daughter as well as the other children. I hope you and your family enjoy the experience.
Brendan Donahue, LUSC Director of Coaching