Formal Writing Assessment

This is my Formal Writing assessment for term 2:

Bad Behaviour Should Be Sidelined

Bad behaviour by spectators at children’s sporting events has become commonplace in New Zealand. Every weekend, what should be a fun-filled and family-friendly occasion is at risk of turning into a stressful, unpleasant and abusive experience. A study of the impact of spectator behaviour on young people, conducted by the national agency for sport in Scotland, in 2012, found that 76% of sports players had experienced repeated instances of poor behaviour by spectators. The consequences of such behaviours are substantial. Bad attitudes displayed by parents may be passed on to their children and affect how they react in competitive situations later in life. Unacceptable behaviour by parents can adversely affect a child’s enjoyment of the sport and drive them away from an otherwise beneficial activity. Referees and other match officials, who often bear the brunt of abusive behaviour, may be persuaded to quit. Enough is enough – the time has come to take effective action against bad behaviour on the sideline!

Firstly, when parents exhibit offensive behaviour, they are bad role models for children. It is commonly accepted that, at a young age, children are very impressionable. It is therefore likely that if they witness their parents behaving inappropriately on the sideline, then they will consider this to be the normal way to act, and imitate them. This behaviour may then be carried over from the sports field to other competitive situations in the child’s life. It is commonplace to see a child throwing a tantrum on the sports field or complaining about a refereeing decision – behaviours learnt from adult role models. Teaching children sportsmanship, self control and how to deal with successes and failures is more important than passing on specific sporting skills. The best way to teach this is by example.

Secondly, parents’ sideline behaviour can discourage children from playing sport at all. Children play team sports because they enjoy them. A recent study conducted by Massey University shows that ‘high-stress’ coaches who pressure their players lose 25% of them each season, while coaches considered to be positive towards their players lose only 5%, regardless of how their team does. It is safe to assume that the same idea applies to parents. If a parent is highly competitive and aggressive on the sideline, the child will not enjoy playing sports. Some sports organisations have adopted a code of conduct for spectators that serves to educate parents as to what constitutes appropriate and positive behaviour on the sideline. Promoting supportive and encouraging behaviour helps to put the joy back into the game and motivates children to keep playing their sport.

Thirdly, there have been many instances in New Zealand where parents have assaulted sports referees at their child’s match. Even sportspeople who have represented New Zealand at an international level do not seem to know better. Former All White Danny Hay, now coach of the Sacred Heart College first eleven football team, was red carded; removed from the sidelines, for abusing match officials during a game. If this trend continues, then very few people will wish to referee games in the future. Referees at children’s sports matches are volunteers; they are officiating because they enjoy doing so. It goes without saying that they will not continue to referee if they feel there is a danger posed by parents involved. ‘The verbal abuse is so commonplace as to not be worth documenting,’ writes the Daily Telegraph. In England alone, over 7,000 referees have given up on the job ‘in the past couple of seasons.’ Abuse of referees should not be tolerated. Some clubs have taken the step of appointing someone to be on the sideline to deal with bad behaviour by spectators or players. Other ways of dealing with abusive behaviour are to ban the spectator from attending matches or send a player off the field. Abusive behaviour has to be stamped out or sport will risk losing the invaluable contribution made by officials, and much more beside.

The problems and solutions are clear. When parents exhibit offensive behaviour, they are poor role models for children. By removing the enjoyment from the game they discourage children from playing sports at all, and by abusing referees they jeopardise their ongoing contribution to the game. Effective measures include education of spectators, adopting a code of conduct, appointing an official to be on the sideline to deal with bad behaviour and applying sanctions to spectators behaving in an abusive way. It is time to sideline bad behaviour!

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