Bruins News ·


The IHSAA has released another article concerning one of the biggest challenges facing high school sports today. It is bit discouraging to hear that things are not improving overall. That said, I have been pleased for the most part with the behavior of most of our athletes, coaches, parents, and fans. 99% are doing a fantastic job representing our school and community based on my observations and experiences this fall. We have a few parents who still don’t understand that representing us poorly or yelling at officials and coaches at inappropriate times does not represent us well. But that is, fortunately, rare.

Of the six points noted below there are two that I believe are bigger concerns for Bruins. One is “Don’t live your life vicariously through your children.” I know you have high hopes for your kids….we all do. But let’s not forget that this is their experience. I am starting to hear more talk such as “If my kids doesn’t get to…..(do whatever or play for a certain coach or at a certain level)….I will take them elsewhere.” This ties the hands of the coaches and prohibits us from building a program because we don’t know who will be here in the end when it matters (for most kids….that’s varsity athletics….remember only about 3% of all athletes end up at the college level).

The second is “Let the children talk to the coach without you doing it for them.” Some parents want to share their concerns before the athlete gets to. As your A.D. and as a coach, I want to know what the athlete thinks about their experience. And even though a parent may be well-intentioned and wants to sit in, this will affect the athlete sharing what they really want to (they feel like they have to say what the parent wants them to say). Kids need to know how to have a discussion about things they don’t understand or if their experience is not going the way they would like. That’s an important life skill that they don’t get to learn when they don’t have the opportunity for whatever reason. There is one great way to learn….by doing so!

In the end, I hope most realize that coaches are doing their best to allow everyone to have a great experience. But the reality is that they will rarely happen because you can play the whole team at once. (And if they did, the next argument would be “my kid doesn’t get to carry the ball [as an example] enough.”) So coaches do the best they can based on what they see in practices and games and how well certain kids work together as a group.

Again, I think we are doing a lot of things really well. But there is always room for improvement and that includes me, and our athletes, coaches, parents, and fans.

Thanks to all those who represent us well and try to take the high road when things are tough. To all others, let’s keep working to improve so that more will want to come cheer on our Bruins! The better the experience, the better likelihood that that happens.

Here’s the article from the IHSAA….

AN OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE ON BEHALF OF OUR STUDENT-ATHLETES

Recently, Dr. Karissa Niehoff, the Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and I co-authored an op-ed piece discussing parent and fan behavior. While we believe the majority of high school fans and parents across our country are supportive and represent appropriately at school events, there seems to be a growing number of adults whose manners at education-based athletic events could use improvement. These undesirable displays erode the positive interscholastic experience for our student-athletes and other fans and supporters. I have reprinted our discussion below:

Parents and Adult Fans: The Biggest Challenge Facing High School Sports Today

By Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations and Bobby Cox, Commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association.

Inappropriate adult behavior at high school athletic events in Indiana has reached epidemic proportion.

When more than 2,000 high school athletic directors were asked in a recent national survey what they like least about their job, 62.3% said it was “dealing with aggressive parents and adult fans.”

And the men and women who wear the black and white stripes agree. In fact, almost 80% of officials quit after the first two years on the job, and unruly parents are cited as the reason why. As a result, there is a growing shortage of high school officials here in Indiana, and in some sports like wrestling, swimming, and track and field, the shortage is severe. No officials means no more games.

If you are a parent attending a high school athletic event this fall, you can help by following these six guidelines:

1. ACT YOUR AGE.

You are, after all, an adult. Act in a way that makes your family and school proud.

2. DON’T LIVE YOUR LIFE VICARIOUSLY THROUGH YOUR CHILDREN.

High school sports are for them, not you. Your family’s reputation is not determined by how well your children perform on the field of play.

3. LET YOUR CHILDREN TALK TO THE COACH INSTEAD OF YOU DOING IT FOR THEM.

High school athletes learn how to become more confident, independent and capable—but only when their parents don’t jump in and solve their problems for them. 

4. STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE.

No coaching or officiating from the sidelines. Your role is to be a responsible, supportive parent—not a coach or official.

5. REMEMBER, PARTICIPATING IN A HIGH SCHOOL SPORT IS NOT ABOUT GETTING A COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP.

According to the NCAA, only about 2% of all high school athletes are awarded a sports scholarship, and the total value of the scholarship is only about $18,000.

6. MAKE SURE YOUR CHILDREN KNOW YOU LOVE WATCHING THEM PLAY.

Do not critique your child’s performance on the car ride home. Participating in high school sports is about character development, learning and having fun—not winning and losing.

Purchasing a ticket to a high school athletic event does not give you the right to be rude, disrespectful or verbally abusive. Cheer loud and be proud, but be responsible and respectful. The future of high school sports in Indiana is dependent on you.

The final paragraph in our plea is not overstated. As adults leading our young people, we have an opportunity to demonstrate and model behaviors we hope our students will both learn and emulate. Collectively, this generation can reclaim the narrative of high school sports and refocus our energies on robust student development, energetic community and school support, proper sportsmanship and most importantly, FUN! After all, this is the number one reason why high school students play sports.

Cordially,


BOBBY COX

Commissioner
Indiana High School Athletic Association, Inc.