Implementation of “Silent September” — Just let them play!
July 10, 2017 — Irmo, SC — In late June, the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association (SCYSA) published a Silent September policy to its website but the guidelines for implementation had not been fully developed so they were not part of that publication. That policy, however, garnered an unforeseeable amount of attention in both social media and the media itself where much has been made of things literally being “silent,” which exaggerates how our policy will be implemented. The information below outlines those implementation guidelines which have been part of the concept from the beginning.
In case you were not aware, a fully licensed soccer referee badge can be earned at age 14. So it’s not uncommon for teenagers to be reffing the younger ages — who happen to have some of the more “enthusiastic” parents. That is where those younger referees are mentored and gain experience. So in that circumstance it is essentially adults yelling at teenagers. The number one reason that youth soccer referees in SC report for not returning is inappropriate behavior from parents to the tune of 70% not returning.
Over the last several years we have used a variety of strategies to address these concerns with nominal positive results, but even some improvement was good. Those strategies included removing and sanctioning parents who acted inappropriately. This past Spring, however, we had an uptick in inappropriate behaviors so we developed this initiative of a “Silent September” to kick off the Fall season of the 5 leagues that we administer directly. Those 5 leagues are, Sandlapper, Coastal, Open, PMSL and Challenge. This policy does not apply to any leagues separately managed by any member club unless that league/club chooses to adopt it. Likewise it does not apply to tournaments, the Premier League, ECNL or any other leagues.
For purposes of this policy, “Silent” means any, “verbal cheering at any time that the ball is in play.” Clapping, foot stomping, cowbells, thunder sticks, vuvuzelas and similar types of manual noisemakers are allowed. Artificial or electronic noisemakers, musical instruments, drums and whistles are not allowed. If any noisemaker is used in a manner to express dissent or to harass a game official or opposing player/coach in the opinion of the referee, that parent/spectator may be subject to the ask/tell/dismiss protocol.
Any public, personal and provocative comment directed to any game official or opposing player/coach may result in an immediate send off – i.e. the game official can go immediately to having the coach dismiss the individual(s), and if they fail/refuse to leave the venue, then the coach will be sent off and the game could potentially result in being abandoned.
Aside from the impact that inappropriate parent behaviors have on referees, particularly younger referees, many parents really seem to lack the understanding of how their well-intentioned “cheering” has on their players. In that regard, the Changing the Game Project is a great reference. Here’s a video that they have published that is directly on point: https://www.facebook.com/ChangingTheGameProject/videos/1430366760343548/. That is another component of this same conversation.
Our primary objective with this Silent September initiative is to start the conversation; to reset everyone to our long established expectations of sideline behaviors. We understand that it’s a process to change the culture, but that process needs to start somewhere.
SCYSA is encouraging parents to stay engaged and be part of the conversation going forward. And even in September, there will be plenty of opportunity for parents to tell their players how much they love to watch them play.
Thank you for supporting youth soccer in SC!
The SRC will finalize advice and guidance for South Carolina referees in the near future. This policy should have little to no effect on your match management. The Laws of the Game and the respective rules of competition will continue to serve as a road map for the prepared referee team.
Sincerely, The SRC