After publishing ‘An Initiative That Virtually Suppresses Referee Abuse.’ You, the readers, followed up with ‘Garnered Lively Responses!’
When I asked for more suggestions on how to work together to ensure these initiatives become national mandates. An overwhelming number of you responded, “Mandates, especially for the national level, would take years and years to put into effect!”
Rather than wait years for any common sense national initiative to come to fruition. Here are three approaches that have been used successfully in improving sideline behavior and can be implemented immediately.
PLAYERS PRE-GAME PLEA
The Fresno Fig Garden Youth Soccer League assigns a player from each team to read the following to the sidelines before every game:
“Hello, parents and friends! We, the players, would like to ask that you not yell at or coach any players while on the field. We also ask that you not use bad language towards players, referees, or each other. Please use words that encourage and motivate us. Thank you, and enjoy the game!”
“Hola padres y amigos. Los jugadores nos gustaría pedirles que no griten ni dirigen a ningún jugador mientras este en el cancha. También le pedimos que no usen lenguaje inapropiado hacia ningún jugador, arbitro o entre sí. Por favor use palabras que nos animen y nos motive. Gracias y disfruta el juego.”
Why aren’t spectators allowed to stand on the 1st and 3rd base-line in baseball?
“Ridiculous!” you say? “They would be on the field of play and interfere with the runners. They could become emotionally involved being so close to the action!” The list of reasons would go on and on.
And yet we allow spectators at a soccer game to Stand On the Touchlines, which are just as much a part of the field as the 1st and 3rd base-lines in baseball. Why is this not considered to be ridiculous?
Progressive soccer communities are Marking Out a ‘Spectator Viewing Line.’
Since spectators are off the field, interference with play is avoided; being a distance away from the action seems to help minimize emotional outbursts.
Diagonal Viewing Area
It has become trendy because opposing spectators separated at this great distance has lessened emotional confrontations.
The arrangement has also kept the ARs from hearing snide remarks and gives them an unobstructed working area.
Dear Reader: Reports have been sent to me stating that the addition of the ‘Players Pre-game Plea’ – ‘Spectator Lines’ and ‘Diagonal Viewing Area‘ have dramatically improved sideline behavior in their communities.
Why not test these ideas and see if they will work in your community?
Notice: If YOU have developed or observed any other unique ways sideline misbehaviors were handled successfully? Please share them..!
Over decades of involvement with youth sports, I have seen plenty of bad behavior, including (sadly) my own. I like the suggestions here, which are made in good faith with the best intentions.
The general point is well taken in the sense that ARs need space and unobstructed views, and players do step off for throw-ins and when momentum carries them there. A (minimum) 5-yard distance from the sideline to fans makes sense, maybe more for older, bigger kids.
The ARs could gently suggest to spectators a preferred distance and enforce it with the help of club reps.
Proactive prevention always outshines reactive response. That said, I believe the threat of ejection, suspension, and banishment can be an effective final step. Rich Jablonski
I like the idea of the diagonal viewing area for youth matches, but where would the technical areas of each team be located? Lance VanHaitsma
I agree with Lance. Where are the technical areas if you implement the diagonal system of spectators? My other concern will be that the parents don’t want to sit 70-80 meters away from the goal area their kids are attacking. Pete Dakis
According to the Laws of the Game, “A white line marks the technical area. Varying in size, but always (1 yard) on either side of the designated seated area. Extend[ing] forward up to a distance of (1 yard) from the touchline.”
And the place where the coach is standing in the illustration adds another barrier between spectators and AR..! Lance & Pete,