Sportsmanship Program Description

Professional sports are an important part of our culture.  Fans spend a considerable amount of money to attend games and feel that they are entitled to yell at the umpire or referee.  For many fans, this is part of the professional sports experience.  Since the fans at professional matches typically sit so far from the action, there is no impact on the game and it’s “all in good fun.”  In youth sports, where the fans are a few feet from the match verbally engaging the referee, other parents, players and the coaches is simply inappropriate.

When involved in youth sports, parents, coaches and officials have a responsibility to act as role models. As adults what we say and do on the field sends a message about appropriate behaviors to the children. When working with children the five bullets below can be used as a checklist to monitor what we say and do.

·       Is it right?

·       Is it against the rules?

·       Is it fair to everyone involved?

·       Would my ethical role models do it?

WYSL Code of Conduct

The WYSL has adopted a Code of Conduct for its Coaches and Team Managers, and one for its Parents and Players. We ask that all coaches and managers review them before each season, distribute them to their parents and players.  The Code of Conduct hand-outs are available on the WYSL website in both English and Spanish.

Sportsmanship Guidelines

The WYSL’s objectives are to provide the opportunity for children and young adults to participate in a soccer experience where they can develop positive self-esteem and build character. 

To achieve this, the League has implemented a number of activities summarized below:

Sportsmanship Program and Awards: At each game the referees will rate the sporting behavior of each team’s coaches, players and parents.  On the Lineup Form that each team submits before the game there is a section which asks the referee to rate on a 0 star (unacceptable) to a 3 star (good) scale behavior on the following three questions:

1)    Did the coach display positive reinforcement to his/her team and was the coach respectful of the referee?

2)    Were the parents/spectators respectful of the referee and did they display sporting behavior towards the opposition?

3)    Were the team players respectful of the referee and did they display sporting behavior towards the opposing team?

The maximum average rating a team can receive is 3 stars where all three of the coach/parents/players were judged to have displayed “excellent sporting behavior”. A zero rating says that coach/players/parents were acting inappropriately at the match and course corrections must be made. The Lineup Form results are tallied on the website and the team in each Division with the best sporting record each season will receive Sportsmanship Award patches that can be worn on the uniform jerseys (left shoulder recommended).

Referees are reminded that it is not their responsibility to judge the quality or style of how the coach teaches the game.

The WYSL Sportsmanship Committee throughout the season will monitor sporting behavior.  If negative trends in the results are found, the sportsmanship committee will reach out to the Club Presidents for additional support in correcting negative behavior. 

Listed below are general suggestions regarding what constitutes good and bad behavior, as well as specific examples.  These are not meant to be a complete list of suggestions/examples, but hopefully provide some guidance to you as you rate the coach, parents and players.


Good Behavior

1.  Treat the referee like you’d like to be treated yourself.

2.  Make the pre-game routine easy. Coach gets players organized and properly equipped.

3.  Encourages players when appropriate.

4.  Applauds good play by players.

5.  Thank the referee after the game.

6.  Displays a cordial relationship with the other team’s coach(es)

Bad Behavior

1.  Yelling at the referee, arguing with the other team’s coach(es).

2.  Berating players, at any time.

3.  Comments, other than praise, regarding opponents.

4.  Excessive “Reffing” the game – excessive and/or persistent verbal opinions regarding fouls/infractions, grunts and groans.

5.  When fouls are called, players are told that the referee made a mistake.       

6.  Any comments about the referee’s abilities (inferred sarcasm).

7.  Delaying the game to maintain a lead or tie in the game.


Good Behavior

1.  Support your players, do not coach them.

2.  Cheer good plays from both sides on a selective basis.

3.  Positive and supportive to players, coaches, other parents and referees.

4.  Thanked the referee after the game.

Bad Behavior

1.  Any comments about the referee or the calls on the field.

2.  Excessive “reaction” to fouls/infractions (“oh . . . .” or grunts/groans).

3.  Any negative banter with the opponent or parents of the opponent.

4.  Yelling and screaming comments during the game that are not positive or supporting.

5.  Shouting at the referee every time a player falls onto the field.


Good Behavior

1.  Encourage teammates.

2.  Congratulate opponents on good plays (without sarcasm).

3.  Team Captains/Players thank the referee.

4.  Help fallen players get up from the field.

Bad Behavior

1.  Any comments directed toward the referee.

2.  Any comments that might be perceived as negative directed toward the opponent, the coaches or the sidelines.

3.  Gestures or other forms of non-verbal communication.

4.  Constantly questioning the calls of the referee.

5.  Constant fouling of the opponent, especially fouls that could result in an injury (e.g., high kicks, tripping from behind, etc.).

Real Life Examples and Behavior Score:

Action: After the game the coach followed me to the parking lot and continued to tell me he was not happy.

Score: 0

Corrective Action: The process for a coach to comment about the referee is by completing a Coach Comment Form on the WYSL website. 

Action: Coach berating his players constantly during the game and actually yelled at the opposing team players.

Score: 0

Corrective Action: This issue was brought to the attention of the Club President.  The Club President had a conversation with the coach about game day behavior.

Action: A number of players during the game were holding players shirts and shorts.  I verbally warned three players and then had to issue 2 yellow cards.

Score: 1

Corrective Action: Yellow Cards

Action: Team parents did a lot of clapping and cheering. One parent from the opposing team was coaching and yelling at his son.

Score: Team X 3, opposing team 2.

Corrective Action: None

Action: Good game and relatively clean.  I had to caution player “x” for cursing at an opponent. There were no other issues.

Score: Players from Team “X”  1, Players from Team Y 3

Corrective Action: Yellow Card

Action: The game went well. It was the first game EVER for the girls. One girl caught the ball in the box, and I had to award a PK. After the girl took the shot, she exclaimed to her teammate "I was aiming for that stupid girl’s head!"

Score: 1

Corrective Action: Yellow Card

Action: Field - excellent; injuries - none; ejections - none; cautions – none, players and parents excellent.

Score: 3

Action: None

Action: Unfortunately, for much of the second half, I heard criticism from Team “x” parents, and coaches, regarding the large number of fouls called against them, as opposed to the relatively few fouls being called against Team “y”

Score: Parents/Coaches Team X 1, Parents/Coaches Team “y” 3

Corrective Action: None

Action: The game that was played was a very good and well fought by both teams. Both teams showed they had a lot of skill even though the score line is one sided; it doesn’t show how much effort was put into by both teams. Everyone was very supportive.

Score: 3 for everyone

Corrective Action: None

Action: Hard fought game, but clean. Team “x” felt that the 4th Team “y” goal was offside and complained a bit, but did not get out of control. I admit that I did not place myself in the best position to see the play and will correct this mistake in the future. To their credit, Team “x” was gracious about it after the game. No problems to report. A spirited contest.

Score: Coach Team “X” 3, Coach Team “Y” 3

Corrective Action: None

Action: A joy to referee. Both teams played with positive spirit and excellent sportsmanship. The coaches were encouraging and friendly. The players of both teams cheered each other in the center circle after the game. Absolutely no dirty play or complaining at all. After the game players from both teams said thank you to me. 

Score: 3 for all

Corrective Action: None

Action: Intolerable very loud, negative coach towards players and referee.  Same team had very loud and negative parents.

Score: Coach/Parents 0

Corrective Action: Coach asked to attend a positive coaching webinar.