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U.S. Parents are Bad Sports

poor-sport-sm250If your child participates in organized sports, there’s a good chance you’ve witnessed some bad behavior at a game.  Not by the kids, of course.   No, we are talking about the freak-outs, tantrums and abusive behavior of parents at kid’s sporting events.

According to a new poll conducted by market research firm Ipsos, 35 percent of adults worldwide report witnessing another adult become verbally or physically abusive toward an official at a children’s sporting event.  But if you break that statistic down by location, the U.S. is the clear winner in the bad sportsmanship contest. 

The survey of 23,000 adults in 22 countries found that in the U.S., 60 percent of adults say they’ve seen another adult totally lose it at a game.  John Wright, senior vice president of Ipsos, finds those numbers surprising.

“It’s ironic that the United States, which prides itself in being the most civilized country in the world, has the largest group of adults having witnessed abusive behavior at children’s sporting events.”

But while the U.S. may be the leader in bad sideline behavior, we aren’t the only ones who don’t know how to behave at a children’s sporting event.   India, Italy, Argentina, Canada and Australia all reported numbers of 50% or more adults who had witnessed inappropriate and abusive behavior directed at coaches and officials by the parents of young players.

So, where are all the well-mannered and civilized parents?  In Hungary, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Japan and France.  Spectators at children’s sporting evens in those countries were found to be the least likely to witness bad behavior by overzealous parents.

Wright may be surprised by the United State’s showing in this poll, but I’m not. My own child dropped out of soccer, a game she loved, partly because of the parental craziness on the sidelines.  Despite the fact that every parent was required to attend a “how not be a jerk” class prior to their child’s first game, all that seemed to go out the window as soon as the whistle blew.

Have you seen parents acting like idiots at your kid’s sporting events?  Have you ever been guilty of too much enthusiasm yourself?

Image: madmolecule/Flickr

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