Monday, October 4
Kids have a ball on 'Silent Sunday'
Associated Press

 CLEVELAND -- The soccer fields were silent as thousands of parents and coaches in the Northern Ohio Girls Soccer League obeyed a noise ban.

League officials said they were fed up with constant screaming from the sidelines and decided to ban cheering and jeering by parents and coaches during dozens of games Sunday.

Only the players were allowed to encourage each other vocally on "Silent Sunday."

The parents silently sucked on lollipops, waved signs and even put duct tape over their mouths to stay quiet. Goals and saves were met by smiles and nods of approval, even from the coaches.

"It put things into perspective for a lot of people who thought they weren't being that loud. They saw how loud they were," said Tammy Soper, who coached two games Sunday.

Except for an occasional cheer or clap, most parents kept quiet. The only roar came from parents watching nearby boys soccer games.

"The kids had a ball. They were able to make decisions on their own without being questioned or yelled at," said Carl Pavlovich, a coach and board member for the league, which has 3,800 girls between 8 and 14 years old. He watched 10 games Sunday and said the consensus was that noise-free games were a good idea.

Fred Engh, president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports, said earlier that he never had heard of a game that required silence on the sidelines.

"Parents have lost perspective of what youth sports are all about," he said. "This is a wake-up call, a giant timeout for adults."

The father of a high school soccer player was charged with punching one of his son's opponents during a game in suburban Cleveland on Sept. 27.

League officials don't plan to make silence a policy, but are considering another day of silent games in the spring.

"I loved it that it was so quiet," Soper said. "I thought it was wonderful that kids could do everything on their own."