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Youth Soccer Referee Says Parents Are A Problem At Games


Avery Krut refereed children's soccer games in Beverly Hills for 15 years. And he says it's become intolerable - not the children, their parents. He wrote them a letter. That's become a national story. He agreed to read us a bit of it.

AVERY KRUT: (Reading) Your behavior on the sidelines has, for far too long, been disrespectful, and you are damaging the children. You have said nasty things to and about too many referees, and it must come to an end.

SIMON: Avery Krut, obviously, joins us.

Thanks so much for being with us.

KRUT: You're very welcome.

SIMON: What made you write this letter?

KRUT: What I've noticed is that the sidelines has become more venomous. When expletives come across, when parents are yelling you're the worst referee ever because of one bad call that was made - this is outrageous behavior. It's unacceptable on every level.

SIMON: Is there a particularly egregious incident that sticks in your mind that you could relate to us we might learn from?

KRUT: First week of the season, a young boy - he has the ball over his head. He's ready to make the throw-in. And a spectator on the sideline puts her hands on the child's shoulders, spins him around so he'd be redirecting the ball to a different player. So I blew my whistle. And I said - is this your child? And she said, no, this is not my child. So I explained to her, I said, you can never, ever, ever, ever touch a player.

SIMON: So this was a cry for civility, not I'm sick and tired and can't take it anymore?

KRUT: That's correct. This is a cry for civility. This is a plea for everyone to join me and everyone else who believes that we can have a fun, fair and safe experience in which sanity is expressed on the sideline.

SIMON: Well, it sounds that you're complaining less that your feelings were hurt than the youngsters might be getting a very bad example of what it is to be an adult.

KRUT: Well, no. Eventually, what it is is the children hear all this. When parents yell at children to do this, to do that - run, harder, hit it, hit it, play harder, kick it, kick it, kick it - the moment a parent yells something, you can see the head of the child cock towards the sideline because they want to behave as their parent wants them to do. And they're getting mixed signals.

SIMON: Have you heard from any parents since your email?

KRUT: I have received now over 250 emails - all in support of what I had to say. There is an irony, though. There's a half a dozen of them that I would put on the list of the most egregious abusers of sideline behavior. I could not believe that these people have no clue that they are the problem.

SIMON: Avery Krut is a referee still for the American Youth Soccer Organization in Beverly Hills.

Thanks so much for being with us, sir.

KRUT: Thank you, Scott. Appreciate it.

(SOUNDBITE OF TYCHO'S "A WALK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.