Backyard Flag Football Events are meant to be exciting. That is why we attend. However, there is a difference between a sporting event at the collegiate or professional level and one amongst a group of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, etc. year olds. The younger players are still developing their motor, spatial and decision-making skills. So the source of the excitement one feels as an adult when watching a sporting event is not the same as the source of excitement felt by children that are participating and still trying to form a self-image and identity of who they will be when on the field.
The process of developing one’s athletic abilities amongst one’s peers under the tutelage of a “new adult”, the coach, is a very big deal. Everything the adult says or does is a data point that imprints itself on one’s development. So we need to choose our words and tonality carefully. Don’t forget that “pickup” sports don’t occur very widely anymore and that used to be the primary training ground for our youth. So the time we spend with young, developing players on the field now is even more critical because the shaping process that used to come from pickup sports is absent.
Please keep this in mind as you read through and digest the information below. If there is anything you do not understand, please contact Coach Rich for clarification. Thanks for being a part of the Backyard Sports. We are working very hard to make it the best volunteer-based, youth athletic development program possible and need your support and input to be successful.
Coaches shall assist each player toward developing his or her fullest potential in Backyard Flag Football.
Coaches shall remember that the behavior of a team can reflect the coach's own manner, attitudes, temper and approach to the game, and shall conduct themselves in a way which brings credit to themselves, their team and Backyard Sports.
Coaches shall be responsible not only for coaching their teams, but also for running games, dealing fairly and property with officials and maintaining an objectivity and sense of balance commensurate with good sportsmanship.
Exemplify the highest moral character, behavior and leadership, adhering to strong ethical and integrity standards.
Respect the integrity and personality of the individual athlete.
Abide by and teach the rules of the game in letter and in spirit.
Set a good example for coaches, players and spectators to follow:
Please refrain from arguments in front of the players and spectators.
No gestures which indicate an official or opposing coach does not know what he or she is doing or talking about.
No throwing of any object in disgust.
Coaches shake hands with the officials and the opposing coaches before and after the contest in full view of the public.
Display modesty in victory and graciousness in defeat in public. Please confine your remarks to game statistics and to the performance of your team.
Be no party to the use of profanity or obscene language or improper actions. Accept and understand the seriousness of your responsibility and the privilege of representing your team and Backyard Sports.
Learn the rules of the game thoroughly and discuss them with parents, fans, fellow coaches, and players. This will assist both them and you in the achievement of a better understanding and appreciation of the game.
Teach sportsmanship and reward teams/teammates that are good sports.
Treat opponents the way you would like to be treated, as a guest or friend. Who better than you can understand all the hard work and team effort that is required of your sport? Never direct remarks at opponents in a taunting manner.
Wish opponents good luck before the game and congratulate them in a sincere manner, as you would like to be greeted following either victory or defeat.
Respect the integrity and judgment of game officials. The officials are doing their best to help promote you and your sport. Treating them with respect, even if you disagree with their judgment, will only make a positive impression of you and your team in the eyes of the officials and all spectators at the event.
Try to understand the seriousness and responsibility of your role, and the privilege of representing your team and Backyard Sports.
Establish standards of desirable behavior and attempt to transfer that to your spectators.
Select positive comments that praise your team without antagonizing the opponents.
Encourage a positive crowd alternative when booing or any inappropriate behavior begins.
Give encouragement to injured players and recognition to outstanding performances for both teams.
Remember that recreational athletics are learning experiences for participants and that mistakes are sometimes made. Praise players in their attempt to improve themselves as young athletes and as people.
Spectators need to understand that attendance at a game is a privilege to observe the contest, not a license to verbally assault others and be generally obnoxious. You also are a direct reflection on your community/program.
Refrain from the use of any controlled substance (alcohol, drugs, etc.) before and during games and afterwards on or near the site of the event (i.e., tailgating).
Promote ideals and fundamentals of good sportsmanship.
Report acts of sportsmanlike behavior without giving undue publicity to unsportsmanlike conduct.
Refrain from making negative comments toward participants, coaches or officials.
Report facts without demonstrating partiality to either team.
The following behavior is not conductive to coaches:
- Questioning of calls made by officials on the field
Coaches, assistant coaches and stat keepers trying to influence a referee to make a call or to change his call in favor of their team
Throwing of playbooks, folders, clipboards, hats, etc.
Vulgar language from fans who feel they are a part of the team’s coaching staff
Coaches allowing players to complain, question or comment on a call from the referee
Coaches insinuating to an official or directly to a player on an opposing team that they are deliberately trying to hurt players from their team
Too many parents on the sidelines who are not coaches, assistant coaches or stat keepers
Coaches arguing and repeatedly questioning referees about the spot of the ball on the field
Teams complaining about other teams tying their flag belts
Illegal blocking or setting of illegal picks
Coaches not distributing the ball evenly to all players but giving it to the same 2 or 3 players
Coaches running onto the field to protest a call made by a referee
Pushing or shoving of a player out of bounds so that an opposing player does not get a first down or a touchdown
Parents of players running onto the field…absolutely not allowed unless a coach or referee calls them to the field
Coaches pointing at opposing coaches and making comments towards each other. From this point forward, Backyard Flag Football will enforce the following disciplinary action if any of the above incidents occur, prior to, during or after a game. If an incident occurs during a game, there will not be a warning issued – the game will be stopped and the coaches, assistant coaches, stat keepers or whomever incurred the infraction will be held accountable for having his or her team forfeit that game. Regardless of the score, the opposing team will be awarded the victory and the person or persons that have committed the childish act will be suspended from coaching or being on the sidelines of any of the remaining games. If the infraction is deemed serious enough, the team will ultimately pay the price by having to forfeit out of the playoffs.
Backyard Sports has a “Zero Tolerance” for parents and spectators regarding the above issues and to date, they have adhered to those rules. What concerns me and is quite disheartening to me and several parents in the league is the outlandish behavior of some of the coaches, assistant coaches and stat keepers. I personally love to win at everything I do; but each and every one of us as coaches need to be reminded that we are coaching kids! Your actions can be construed as threatening to players on your team and players from opposing teams as well as parents and spectators. You may not realize it, but as a coach you can be a key player in a child’s decision to continue playing the sport or turning him or her away due to your actions. Never lose sight of that fact that you are a role model for these players. With that in mind, think before you react!
Finally, how would you react as a parent if your son or daughter was refereeing a game and being verbally assaulted by a coach? Keep in mind that the NFL has 6 officials on the field and instant replay to review any calls that they feel were made incorrectly. We have 2 referees who are young adults trying to make a few dollars. For what the league pays these referees, we could pay a WPIAL referee. Instead, we believe in rewarding players who have played in the league and are willing to help younger players out. All of these referees have or are still playing tackle football for area high schools. To the younger players, they are seen as role models. Are the referees going to make bad calls? This may come as a shock to you, but yes they are! I have been refereeing for 26 years and I cannot begin to tell you how many bad calls I have made during that time. No referee or official sets out to make a bad call before a game. All I ask of these referees is to be respectful to the players, coaches and parents. In addition, I ask that they teach the players on the field the rules of the game, hustle and be in the proper position to make a call. Remember, our goal for the league and as parents should be and will be to present an environment for which all players can learn, enjoy playing flag football, establish new friendships and boost their social skills – all while having fun!
You don’t have the right to take away the enjoyment that each of these players deserve…be a responsible coach!