“Silent September” — an initiative announced in July by the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association and implemented last to fall keep parents and spectators from yelling at players, referees and coaches — has morphed into “silent season” for at least one soccer organization.
“We want to make sure that we create an environment here where the kids feel that they can come and they’re not being yelled at constantly,” Rafe Mauran from the Carolina Football Club in Spartanburg, S.C., told local CBS-TV affiliate WSPA. “And the second reason is to help with the referee retention rate.”
Generally speaking, “Silent September” seems to have worked — to the surprise of some critics — with less yelling at players and referees by spectators. “There might be an occasional cheer or a groan, but the constant, ‘Jimmy, do this, pass the ball, blah blah blah’ is … much less than it has been historically,” Burns Davison, the association’s rules and compliance chairman, told The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina. “Of course, there are always some parents that think it’s their right to yell at people across the soccer field.”
That’s true, and some parents admitted to WSPA that they’ve struggled to keep quiet. “Staying quiet is not my style,” one soccer dad said. “I was like, OK, they’re going to have to put duc[t] tape on my mouth,” added a soccer mom.
The SCYSA’s initiative impacted more than 10,000 families in more than 50 leagues. It banned “verbal cheering” when the ball was in play but not when the ball was dead. It also allowed clapping, foot stomping, cowbells, vuvuzelas and other manual noisemakers, but not artificial or electronic noisemakers, musical instruments, drums or whistles.
Might youth soccer associations in other states adopt similar “silent” policies? That’s still up in the air. But Davison seems optimistic: “This is the beginning of a dialogue,” he told The Post and Courier. “I am hopefully optimistic that we'll be transitioning into having set a new experience for people that the players like, the parents like and the coaches like."