Sports Edge: The time has finally come to punish out-of-control sports parents


We have noted for years on the Sports Edge radio show that, unfortunately, more and more sports parents have begun to feel more and more entitled at their kids’ games. That somehow, sports parents have an attitude that they have every right to be obnoxious, to yell and scream at the refs, umps, and officials, and at times, to physically assault them.

As this kind of unchecked behavior continues to rise, we have also seen a consistent decline in the number of officials who want to work kids’ games. The major reason why? Who wants to work a HS game or travel game, only to be threatened by angry sports parents?

As we’ve discussed, more and more HS games are being re-scheduled because of the lack of available refs to work the games. And by all accounts, this issue is only going to be worse as the older refs and umps decide to retire. There just aren’t enough new ones coming along to replace them.

And now, there’s a new law making the rounds in NJ that would put some real teeth into handing out some major punishment if a sports parent verbally or physically threatens a game official. This new law, from Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn, is proposing a possible 18 months in jail and thousands of dollars in fines to those who break the law.

In other words, this is a real attempt to let obnoxious parents and fans know that if they misbehave, then they truly will risk going to jail and paying a substantial fine.  The idea, of course, is to use this new law as a strong deterrent to get nutty parents to think twice when they’re at their kids’ games.

So why has the time finally come to take serious action?

Because while it’s true that most sports parents do behave in a proper way at their kids’ games, there’s still a certain hard-core percentage who feel entitled to walk into any gym, or to stand on the sidelines at a kids’ game, and scream obscenities or make threats to the refs, or even the coaches.

You know what I’m talking about. All the other parents sit in the stands, and don’t know what to do. That is, do you personally go to that parent and ask them to calm down? Or do you go and find a security officer or the AD and report the problem? Or if there’s a police officer at the game, do you go to them?

Instead, the fallout is that we see more and more refs quitting. We see sports parents becoming even bolder in their negative actions. And if they are ever arrested, they usually just pay a small fine and are given a lecture and released.

That’s why the time has FINALLY come to put some real strength into these sports parenting laws…and then let’s see what happens why a crazed sports parent is arrested and is convicted and goes to jail.

Let me introduce you to my guest, Russ Petrocelli, who is the highly-respected principal at Depaul Catholic HS in Wayne, NJ. Russ has spent more than 30 years in both public and Catholic education as a teacher, administrator, trustee, and president of the Board of Education. Russ is also a Member of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Executive Committee, and currently serves as a Vice President of that Association.

In short, you couldn’t find a better qualified individual than Russ to talk about these issues.

Featured Image Photo Credit: WFAN