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Editorial: the kids sports parental hate speech issue

Send us a hint

The screaming, spitting and cussing mama bouncing on the bleacher may be fun to watch, perhaps, in some comedy. In real life, spare me the encounter.

As assured us by coaches and a renowned sports psychologist in Postimees sports section today, at Estonian sports arenas the aggressive-towards-all parent is a daily phenomenon. On occasions not too rare it goes to blows.

We think trainings should, in addition to strengthening the body, to also enhance behaviour skills, teamwork, dignity and fair play. Carefully, we pick our kids coaches and make sure they are friendly and supportive. And then, attending the first competition we are shocked to see parents of first-graders who think they are free to spout any obscenities and are out for the win whatever the cost. Naturally, such aren’t the majority. Even so, takes one mad dad to make mood sour for many. And the little ones are the first to suffer.

The problem is broader than acting up at trainings and games as it does spread to schools. However mean the complaint, a teacher will have to serve up a civil answer. Which takes time and drains the mind, making the job harder.

While entitled to ask teachers questions and to communicate, even to complain – alas, there’s many in our ranks who lack the skills to constructively present these with cooperation in mind instead of seeking to find the culprit whatever it takes. Imagining the only way in conflict situations is to get smart-alecky and shoot out threats.

So sports psychologist Aave Hannus explains us that even the aggressive parents are desirous to help the kid but are just unable to do that in a polite and edifying manner. The feeling of being out of control and helpless gets vented in anger and hostility.

The stories vary. There are the cases where the angry adult has been driven off by other parents. Alas, at the cost of the kid also dropping out of the group. Sure, we must intervene as the need arises, but the systemic approach option is for the sports clubs and schools to apply. As the veteran coaches say in the longer story, the solution lies in building cooperation between parents and pedagogues, and in clear messages about what is and isn’t allowed.

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