Somethings never really change …

This is a short extract from the Winter 2012 edition of ‘RELAY’ the Child Protection in Sport Unit Newsletter.

“Over the past 18 months we have been chairing a working group to examine the issue of parental behaviour in sport. We know that sport could not take place in the UK on the scale that it does without the support and effort of many parents, who often volunteer to keep sports clubs running.

However, despite the positives, evidence suggests that parents’ attendance also has it’s downsides. A survey conducted by Children 1st in Scotland has revealed that 43 per cent of children surveyed had directly experienced negative behaviour from spectators, many of whom are parents, with swearing and name calling being the most common form. All of the children who had experienced it said the behaviour made them feel threatened. 20 per cent said it made them want to stop taking part altogether.

The survey, Spectator behaviour in sport, consulted 154 children and 340 parents. It explored the impact of spectator behaviour on children and young people. For many children and young people, their parents encourage and facilitate their involvement and add to their positive experience. But, as this survey highlights, sometimes parents can behave in ways that negatively impact on their own child and other children’s experiences of sport. We know this can take many forms, ranging from inappropriate comments through to bullying and abuse, such as:

• pushy parents who put inappropriate amounts of pressure on their child in sport
• parents who contradict and are overly challenging towards the coach
• parents who stand on the sideline and shout negative and abusive comments at their own and/or other children.

Young officials are at particular risk of abuse in sport. They often stop being perceived as children as soon as they step onto the field of play and take up their officiating role.”

How very, very sad.

Well it doesn’t matter how many ‘books’ ‘agreements’, ‘initiatives’, and ‘goodwill gestures’ are introduced by governing bodies, many parents are just incapable of behaving reasonably when it come to children’s sport – I remember abusive parents yelling trash from the sidelines 40 odd years ago when I was playing.

Since then, we’ve had hundreds of initiatives to try and stamp out this outrageous behaviour and I guess we’ll have hundreds more ‘cos try as I might, I can never forsee a time when the problem will ever be resolved.

However that doesn’t mean I’m not going to support any attempts to stamp it out; words of wisdom, sportmanship, encouragement and consolation, laced with a smile or two are the necessary requirement for watching children’s sport. And if, perchance, the person standing next to you isn’t quite on your wavelength in terms of reasonable and sane behaviour, who am I to judge when a flailing elbow catches them accidentally in the mouth – oops clumsy you!

Sensei’s Christmas Message …

So that’s it for the year.

And what a year!

Some great achievements, fun and games and a change of venue in Luton. Boy has that not gone down too well!

Comes to something when you have to chase a ‘venue’ in order to pay your bill and the lack of managerial leadership beggars belief!

Fortunately we have a club secretary who, likened to a dog with a bone doesn’t give up easily and who, unlike sensei, isn’t prone to tantrums so, for 2012 at least , the issue is resolved.

We had our awards evening, bigger and better than last years – don’t want to think about 2013. We’ve also had a little frustration with our change of venues in Harpenden – but patience, I’m told, is a virtue, problem is I’ve never considered myself that virtuous.

On the plus side – BIG plus side. We launched our first Boxercise club to great success and there’ll be others in 2013 plus another Boxercise instructor!

So here’s to:

Our existing students and parents – we love you all
Those who fell by the wayside – we love some of you
To those who laid out the mats in preparation for our training sessions – we thank you
To those who laid out the mats in the wrong room – we despair
To those who wanted to remove the mats before we’d finished – we despair a little more
To the barriers that refuse to open no matter in which direction you wave your key card – we want to cry
The curious hanging around the doorway asking questions – we live in hope
The curious who took the time to email and phone us – we thank mobile technology and the t’internet
The Shocknife puchase by our club secretary – we wonder how long before my attempts to buy one are turned into a 6 week BBC drama

The time-wasters – we ask why bother
The mildly curious but timid – we ask you to man up and grow a pair

… but to those who took their first steps to train with us during this past year we are extremely grateful that you’ve decided to join us.

Our plans for next year?


Of course none of it will be possible without your help and support and of course the Mayan’s inability to accurately predict an apocalypse. So here’s to 2013 – 13 unlucky for some perhaps, but not for us …

So in the words of Charles Dickens’ immortal Tiny Tim: “God bless us, everyone!”