The Northern Territory news Mon 27 Jul 2020
The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT
Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
News Corp Australia
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News Corp Australia
36 LIFESTYLE MONDAY JULY 27 2020 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 ACOLLECTIVE cheer rangout around the countrywhen sports clubs and codesreopened after restrictions.With coronavirus againbursting the bubble in Melbourne and keeping spectator numbers at a minimum in other parts of the nation, it is perhaps the perfect time to reflect on how to be a good supporter, and what our kids learn from our own conduct and commitment. Professor Ramn Spaaij, from the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University, says the community recreational level is the best place to start in terms of predicting, understanding and guiding future fan behaviour. For many children, thats the first and most meaningful engagement with sport, at that primary school age particularly in the context of clubs, he says. And thats where you also see some of the signs of poor spectator behaviour emerging. A lot of research has been done around the role of parents. What we consistently see is a real disconnect in how some parents experience those kinds of competitions, so with a focus on winning, on their kid needing to play, on their child being a better player, maybe even (becoming) professional. For a bracing lesson in what not to do, Spaaij recommends the 2014 American documentary Trophy Kids, in which parents groom children as young as 10 via a gruelling training schedule, sights fixed on a future in professional sport. Theyd be practising six hours a day and, really, its the parents driving it. The kids are miserable, they actually tell you they hate it, Spaaij says. The bottom line is, put kids first. Why are kids wanting to play? What motivates kids? And that is (having) fun, being physically active, hanging out with their mates. Generally what kids want is parents to be present, but not dominant, not interfering. Dont shout at other players or referees or coaches. As a coach myself, Ive seen parents yelling at their kids to tackle this other player, or to push them or whatever, and kids dont really appreciate that. They experience it as pressure or stress, rather than support. Of course, many other influences exist outside the family unit. Spaaij says, irrespective of the sport, children quickly picked up poor behaviour from elite athletes, including sledging and challenging every decision, and mimic it on the field and from the stands. If its normal to sledge, to have a go at referees, to even have really unfair play such as tackling or playing really rough in ways that actually hurts opponents, if that is condoned at an early level, that can really influence those (later) years as well, he says. Daniel Tooheys son Raff, now 11, was introduced to his chosen NRL team by his kindergarten teacher in 2014. The teachers timing was uncanny: The South Sydney Rabbitohs won the grand final for the first time in 43 years, and Raff was hooked. He is very passionate, Daniel Toohey says. He knows and sings the club song and we watch every Rabbitohs match. As a younger boy growing up, he would get quite upset when the team wasnt performing or winning, so hes had to learn. As well as supporting his beloved Rabbitohs, Raff plays rugby union, loves competitive swimming and is active in the surf lifesaving nippers scene. For his father, his sons autonomous, ongoing love of the Bunnies is about bonding and personal growth. He likes the banter and the rivalry, but theres no doubt that hes had to learn about sportsmanship and good behaviour, Toohey says. He understands the line between the culture of what is acceptable and not acceptable in terms of booing, bad behaviour, swearing, and I dont stand for it. While he admits to watching like a hawk whenever Raff competes, his dad says parents are positive and constructive, with no hooliganism in sight. We always encourage the boys to shake hands, clap each other off, give three cheers to the other team, and recognise that it is just a game, Toohey says. Participating in sports is a really positive thing in understanding yourself and your capabilities. When you commit to something, you get better. That creates momentum and a positive reinforcing behaviour around commitment. People find what theyre good at and what they like. Im absolutely supportive of it, but its up to Raff in terms of what he wants to do and his commitment to it thats really his call. Our codes of conduct FAN FILES Professor Ramn Spaaij is a leading authority on the sociology of sport and hooliganism, both in Australia and internationally. Here are his tips for managing a childs fandom and related behaviour: Start an ongoing conversationInitiate communication as early as possible. Kids should feel safe, heard and free to talk about their interests. How amazing that you found your tribe. But what are the potential risks around that? And how do we need to mitigate those? Validate their interest Dont dismiss it just because you dont understand it. This is an opportunity for parents to learn and bond by engaging. Should we go to a match together one day? Can we watch it together on the TV, and well make whatever comfort food? Teenagers may say no, and thats okay, too. Set healthy boundaries and expectationsIf theyre so committed to a team that theyre visiting fan forums when they should be asleep, you may have a problem. Ask yourself if the behaviour is potentially harmful or if its you not sharing or even disliking the fascination. Always invite a response. For example: If youre losing sleep, not doing schoolwork, falling into the wrong crowd or getting in trouble with police, that needs to be managed. Is there something Im not understanding? Accept their choices, but stay presentChildren are autonomous human beings. You cant completely control what they do. But you obviously want to protect them, and you can probably anticipate some risks better than they can. PARENTS NEED TO SHOW KIDS HOW TO BE SPORTING FANS DIANA JENKINS Daniel Toohey with son Raff, 11, who is a mad Rabbitohs supporter. hibernation
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