There are few things ever yelled from the stands/sidelines of a volleyball match that irk me more than the ever-popular “SCORE!” If you are a volleyball coach, then you know exactly what I am talking about. That moment when the dad in the stands, who has been keeping stats on his iPhone, has a different set score than the 10’ LED scoreboard. I am always amazed by the a fans need to bring this to anyone’s attention. Lets forget for the moment that here are 2 coaches, 3 managers, and 10 players on each bench (that is 30 people if you are keeping track at home). Lets also forget that there is probably 2 to 4 iPads, Androids, and/or clipboards on each sideline as well. While we are blanking our minds, lets forget that there are two trained (regardless what you think) officials in the gym as well. There is a holy grail that is watching over everything. It is called the OFFICIAL SCOREKEEPER. Here is the beauty of the scorekeeper. It does not care what any other device, person, or video says. It is the final answer. Does the scorekeeper make mistakes at times? Sure. The funny part is that it is rare. It is also usually NOT the scorekeeper with the error. It is the scoreboard (ok, the scoreboard operator). Parents tend to forget that the scoreboard really does mean nothing.
True story. In 2008, I had a pretty heated match going on with our main “rival”. It was game four and the match to this point was 28-26, 25-27, 30-28 and it was currently 23-22. The scoreboard operator accidentally put up 24-22 after a replay. Before the scorekeeper could even verify the score, a few vocal fans (our fans, sad to say) started yelling “SCORE! SCORE! YOU HAVE THE WRONG SCORE”. A play then occurred during the whole issue and the score (officially) was 23-23. The scoreboard operator was still trying to figure things out and went back to the original point of error of 23-22, then added the point to give the correct 23-23 score. Well, the self-absorbed parents felt like they missed something and started yelling again. Once the referees double-checked the game continued and we lost 23-25. So it was going to the 5th set. Fast forward to 3-4 in the 5th set. Apparently the parents felt that the scorekeeper is what cost us the 4th set. Every time there was a point and it was not instantly put on the scoreboard, someone would yell. Finally at 7-7 I had enough. I literally called a time out, walked over to the score table and turned the scoreboards off. I honestly am not sure of the legality of what I did. I just know that the referees (who I did have a great relationship with) and the opposing coach (a former doubles partner) clapped and laughed it off. We ended up winning the 5th set 23-21. As soon as the match was over, I made an announcement that all home fans were to remain in the stands. As soon as the opposing team and officials left the gym, I laid in to the parents. I wish you could have seen their faces. Here I was, this “young” coach telling the parents how it was going to be. It was like I was threatening them with the car key. “If you all are respectful and good sports, I will turn the scoreboards on for the next game”. I was positive I would get flooded with e-mails of irate parents over the next week. The exact opposite happened. I got a bunch of e-mails from our parents apologizing for how they acted. I even got e-mails from the opposing teams parents saying how that move was crazy, but they appreciated it.
The moral of this post is….Do not be afraid to have “that talk” with your parents. Nip things in the bud before they even start. Take 30 minutes in the beginning of the season and explain what you expect from them as parents/fans. They are a huge part of your program, and they are also a visible front to it. If they are going to be a part of the wild ride of a season, they need to know their boundaries. Do not assume that they are educated (and not just in volleyball terms) fans. Remember, when they were in school things were most likely different.