Our Children Are Watching


Recently, I traveled on an airplane next to a gentleman from Chicago. We struck up some general, pleasant conversation about where we were from and what we did for a living. I told him that I ran an etiquette company and was rather busy working with schools and companies interested in adding social skills training to their curriculum and training programs.

We started a conversation about how many people have become so oblivious to how they behave in public.  I told him I was regularly disappointed to hear of parents confronting teachers and principals. Moreover, I had personally witnessed extreme rudeness and vulgarity toward coaches and referees at football, basketball and soccer games for children.

I take great offense at people demonstrating disrespectful behavior and unsportsmanlike conduct in public just because they disagree with an official's call or action.  Our children are watching and they are developing their coping skills.  They are deciding how to handle disappointment, conflict and disapproval.  When children see adults screaming at referees and coaches, they believe that this behavior is acceptable - and it’s not!  They believe that when things don’t go your way, a good, old-fashioned temper tantrum will remedy the situation - and it doesn’t!  

My new friend belongs to a sports organization in Chicago with a very good rule: If anyone yells at a referee or coach or acts unsportsmanlike, he is thrown out.  Everyone respects and supports this rule. My friend told me of a situation where an individual raised his voice and used profanity.  That individual was ejected from the game and asked to leave.  The rest of his team apologized to the referee for his behavior. The organization was for fun and no one should be treated poorly for participating, regardless.  I loved it! 

I think we need an organization - or a rule - like this in Cleveland.  I realize that people are passionate about sports in our town.  There is nothing wrong with enthusiasm, but when excitement goes to the dark side and becomes rude and vulgar, something has to be done. 

Bad behavior at Browns games has turned hostile at times. Many parents won't take their children to a game. It shouldn’t be that way.  I am glad the Browns stadium has a family-friendly area, but it’s sad that there has to be one at all.  If people would show some control, everyone could enjoy every sporting event.    

If you have a hard time controlling your emotions at sporting events, please try harder.  My children are watching you!

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Colleen Harding

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 2:33 PM, 02.06.2014