It has become normal, unfortunately, to see videos pop up on social media showing adults fighting at high school and youth sporting events. While these happen nationwide, South Dakota is not immune to it either.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association sent a press release on Monday morning detailing some of the issues that are happening around the country. The release states that 62% of school activities directors across the country say that dealing with aggressive adults/parents is the worst part of their jobs. 80% of officials quit after serving for one year due to issues with parents/adults.

There is an issue, and it does extend to South Dakota. In our state, the SDHSAA is constantly in search of more officials for events. Coaches have seen an uptick in parent complaints and aggressive behavior.

As an aside, I've been covering high school sports here in Sioux Falls since I returned from college in 2012. I have seen multiple incidents and even one in which a parent left their seat to go stand behind a basketball coach and berate them for not playing their child. That's just one example, but there are many each year. - Jerry P.

With the fall sports season underway, SDHSAA Director Dan Swartos, in accordance with Dr. Karissa Neihoff of the National Federation of State High School Associations, has issued an op-ed regarding fan behavior. The entire piece is below.

Parents and Adult Fan Behavior: One of Biggest Challenges Facing High School Sports Today

By Dr. Karissa Niehoff, Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations and Dr. Dan Swartos, Executive Director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

Inappropriate adult behavior at high school athletic events across the United States has reached epidemic proportions, and South Dakota is not immune.  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.”

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 South Dakota, and in some sports, the shortage is severe. No officials mean no more games.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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 $4,500 per year.

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 South Dakota is dependent on you.

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