So you want to avoid crossing the line, but still want to be a passionate and supportive fan? That’s great, here are some examples of ways that you can support your team and enjoy the beautiful game without crossing the line.
- Vocally supporting your team and not focusing on their opponents
- Reporting other fans that you see crossing the line
- Creating funny and positive chants and songs about the team and players that you support
- Taking the pledge not to cross the line
- Encouraging others to take the pledge
- Educating younger fans on how to positively support their team
- Focus on language and messages that build your team up and boos the confidence of the players that you support.
So how do you know if you are crossing the line as a fan? Here are some examples of common negative fan behaviors to avoid.
- Harassing opposing fans, players, or coaches
- Harassing referees
- Using foul or abusive language
- Throwing objects onto the field
- Engaging in derogatory chants
- Encouraging other fans to misbehave
- Using racist or homophobic language/slurs
- Destroying team property
So you’re a fan of the game of soccer. That’s great, we need people who are passionate about the sport, and want to help it grow. However, just because you are a fan of the game doesn’t mean that you get to act however you please. Just because you want your team to win, and want to help them to achieve this goal, doesn’t give you the right to do anything in your power to try and help them. Yelling at the referees, opposing players, or even members of the team that you support because you feel that they are not playing well enough in your opinion, is not positive fan behavior. This is especially true if you’re a parent of a player, as you are expected to be a positive role model, and a positive influence on the game. You need to be supportive, not negative. Don’t focus on tearing down your opponents, but rather focus on building up the team that you support and that you want to do well. If you are a parent of a player remember the coach has your child’s best interest at heart to. If you’re not a parent, remember that the player you are harassing is somebody else’s kid. Be cognizant that if you are yelling, and acting in negative manner, would you really want to have that behavior mimicked by your kids or by other young children? Screaming at the other team isn’t it going to help your team win, and if anything, it just makes you look bad.
While traditionally coaches of teams don’t have many issues with their opposing counterparts, or the players on the other team, issues can still occasionally occur that can lead to potentially negative situations. With that in mind it is important to remain respectful when dealing with coaches and members of another team. Sometimes you might not like the opposing coach or the other team, and whether or not you win or lose, you might want to just yell at them because it makes you feel better. Coaches are human being too, and as a coach you can sometimes get riled up by the opponents. However, remember that when you have a negative interaction with another coach or player on another team, you are essentially telling your players that it’s ok to act in this manner, and that these types of behaviors are normal and acceptable. Sometimes you need to be the bigger person, and to remember you’re the role model and often the face of your team. Team’s and players often take on the identify and values of their coach, and how you act on the field will often dictate how your players act on the field. If the coach or a player of an opposing team is crossing the line, use it as a learning experience for your players, and explain to them why those actions are not appropriate. Turn a negative into a positive by teaching your players how they should be acting.
Depending upon the age and level of the game that you are coaching, you may find yourself having to interact with parents of your players from time to time. While parents of players can be a great resource and benefit for a team, they can also present some difficult situations for coaches. We have all heard the horror stories of the aggressive or over competitive parent that takes things too fare, and it is important as a coach to make sure not to cross the line when you’re dealing with parents. Yes parents can be overbearing, or think that they know more than you do. It’s human nature to want to remind them that you’re the coach not them, however ,always remember that they’re coming from a place of caring and concern, and that they ultimately want to see the same things as you do. It is critical not to blame a player for the behavior of their parents. It also does no one any good to have a negative interaction with a parent, as it puts your players in a very awkward situation. At the end of the day what should be most important to both you and a players parent is that the player is having fun, and learning, growing, and developing both on and off of the field. Keeping this big picture in mind can help you as a coach when you are faced with a difficult parent.
Ahh, referees and coaches, for many people these two groups appear to be natural enemies. However, there is no reason that these two parties can’t interact with each other in a respectful and positive manner. Yes, sometimes referees make a bad call, and it’s human nature to want to yell at them or call them names, but that’s not helping anything. All it’s doing is setting a bad example for your players and telling them that this behavior is OK. Remember, as a coach you are expected to be a role model for your players, especially if you are coaching younger children. It is important as a coach not to underestimate how great of an impact your actions and words can have on your players. Instead of getting mad when a referee in your opinion does miss a call, focus on getting your team back on track, they’re probably just as upset as you are, and it’s your job as a leader and role model to show them that they can move past it. If you’re still busy focusing on the referee you will not able to help them, and all that you’re doing is setting a bad example and letting them know that this behavior is a natural reaction. Be progressive in these situations, not reactive.
So what does it look like to cross the line as a coach? Well how about this, you spent all week preparing for the game, you’ve practiced, you’ve developed a game plan, you’re ready for your opponents, and your players are ready to get out there as well. But, when you finally do kick off, everything starts to go wrong! Why? Because the players aren’t doing what you’ve practiced all week! You spent all week working on how to win the game, and now you’re players screwing it up! Of course your upset, this is important, it could even be your career on line in some cases. So how do you react? You could start to yell at your team, obviously they didn’t get the message the first time, so you need to ‘remind’ them how to do their jobs. However, while that may be cathartic, it’s really not helping at all! Remember that crossing the line and being angry at your own players isn’t going to do anyone any good in the long run. In fact, by yelling at them you’re setting a bad example, and you’re making sure that everyone around you knows that you are off your game. Instead of focusing on yelling at your team or a player that may be playing poorly, try and think about what you can do to change the outcome of the game. Maybe you need to make a sub, or maybe you need to make a tactical change to help your team get back on track. That’s what coaching is all about, adapting to challenges. View these setbacks as a challenge that will make you a better coach in the long run. At the end of the day it is all about the process of getting better as a team and as individuals, sometimes you need to face adversity to achieve this goal. Harassing your players, and making them feel bad about themselves because they did not play well is only going to hurt the team in the long term, as you could end up damaging their confidence and love of the game!
Crossing the line as a player also deals with how you interact with your opponents and your teammates. We all know that everyone out on the field is competitive and wants to win. Sometimes this means that people just get a little too competitive. Sometimes other players provoke you (intentionally or not). When this happens, it is important to make sure that you don’t cross line. Rather than react to the opponent that is needling you, rise above it and be the bigger person. Getting mad and using slurs or bad language against your opponent isn’t going to help. In fact, it just tells them that they have succeeded in getting under your skin. You’re so focused on them that you have forgotten to focus on yourself and how you are playing. By reacting to your opponents and getting involved in verbal and/or physical confrontations with players on the other team you are essentially doing their job for them by throwing off your own game. Make sure that you don’t cross the line, instead ignore the things that are said to you. Be positive in your interactions with your opponents, and focus on helping your teammates out. If something happens that really offends or upsets you, tell your coach, or the referee and make sure that the person who crossed the line knows that what they did was wrong! Remember that the referee is there to help to police the game, they can be a great help when it comes to dealing with disrespectful opponents!
So what does it look like to cross the line as a player? Well let’s start with the easy example. I am of course talking about interacting with referees. Picture this, it’s the heat of the game, it’s a tight game, you’re working hard, and suddenly the referee makes a bad call! What do you do? It’s the referee’s fault that now you’re going lose the game! You’re mad, you’re angry, you’re upset! So you start yelling at the ref, telling them that they are the worst, that they stink at their job!
But yelling at the referee isn’t going to do you any good. In fact, it just makes you look bad. If you go far enough, it could even get you kicked out of the game, hurting your team even more than the bad call did. Instead of yelling at the referee, focus on what you can control. Control the controllables, you can’t control the weather, you can’t control if the ref will make the make right call or not, sometimes you can’t even control the way that the ball bounces. All you can control is how you’re playing, and how you react to any of these challenges. By focusing on playing your best and trying and overcoming these challenges rather than losing your temper anytime something goes against you, you’re actually going to probably have a better impact on the game than just yelling at the referee for messing up would have. Plus, you’re going to look a lot better in the eyes of your teammates, fans, parents, and coaches, all while setting a great example for everyone else on the field.