Code of Conduct for Players, Coaches and Spectators
This note is intended to explain the game-time expectations of the HWYSA Travel Program and ECYSA (Essex County Youth Soccer) with perspective and rationale. The same philosophy is equally applicable to Intramural games.
The referee is in charge of the game at all times. Our players are taught not to comment or argue about a referee’s call. And coaches are also expected to let the referee make or miss calls without interference. Coaches may respectfully ask for clarification on a call only at half-time or at the conclusion of a game. They are not allowed to address the referee during play for anything more than substitutions when appropriate. They cannot discuss or debate any call in real-time. Coaches are not allowed to shout the call they believe is correct like “blue throw-in”. The only time that a coach is allowed to take charge is when a serious safety concern arises.
ECYSA is very strict about the treatment of referees. Most of them are kids and just like our sons and daughters, they are learning and trying to improve with each game. If the on-the-job training includes criticism from authority figures such as coaches and adult spectators, they often quit. This attrition rate has become a serious problem and makes it difficult to cultivate experienced referees.
It is important to let the referees do their best with each game. It is a difficult job and impossible to be perfect. The replay rules in professional sports are certainly proof. If the performance is truly inadequate considering the age of the referee and players, coaches can submit an online report to ECYSA outlining deficiencies that require attention and they will address them in private without public humiliation. The converse is also true. If a coach is reported for arguing with a ref, the league will demand an explanation. In extreme cases, the coach will be prohibited from game day participation.
The same rules apply on the spectator sideline. Referees should not be addressed or criticized. The referee can ask a coach to remove an offensive spectator. Failure to comply can halt the game and result in a forfeit.
Parents need to understand that coaching players from the wrong side of the field erodes many objectives. Spectators screaming instructions to players only confuse them and undermine their confidence. Telling a player to “shoot it” when their coach is encouraging pass-play is a common example. Sports psychologists have proven that players cannot react to real-time instruction. In most game circumstances, a player processes an instruction only after they’ve already taken action.
Hamilton-Wenham has a great reputation throughout ECYSA as a model organization and place to play. We are all very invested in our kids play and it’s very easy to be passionate as a player, coach or parent. But this is youth soccer and it needs to be an enjoyable and positive environment for everyone involved. Please help us maintain this objective.