With the rise of violence in youth sports across the nation, the CSRA Youth Sports Coalition is trying to find a solution to that problem.
Beginning today and running through Jan. 27, parks and recreation departments from six counties, along with other family programs, will be participating in "Silent Sideline Week" at all of its basketball programs.
May Park, Warren Road, Bernie Ward and Belle Terrace community centers are the four locations that will kick off the silence today, while North Augusta Parks and Recreation will begin on Saturday.
"I'm looking forward to see what's going to go on," said Buck Salter, the athletic manager for the Augusta Recreation and Parks Department. "I'm a little skeptical of what may go on, but we're going to use our (public address) system to remind the fans of what is going on."
The objective is trying to provide youth players with at least one game in the season free of sideline distractions from parents, fans and coaches.
"It is going to be an interesting week," said Rick Meyer, superintendent of North Augusta Parks and Recreation.
In addition, it allows the players an opportunity to make decisions on the court by improving communication skills. The silence also supports the referees, as it provides them the chance to concentrate on the game without having to worry about distractions from the stands or sidelines.
Last year, the Georgia State Soccer Association and the CSRA Youth Sports Coalition designated Oct. 23-27, "Silent Sideline Week" at all Family Y youth soccer games. The Family Y received mixed reactions in October and anticipates the same responses throughout the next week.
Earlier in the year, two fathers got into a fight at a youth hockey game in New England, resulting in the death of one. The other is in jail awaiting trial.
Most recently, a high school basketball player for Dreher, S.C., was suspended for two games after being whistled for a "flagrant elbow."
In addition to the "Silent Sideline Week," the sports coalition is trying to organize a "Parents Against Violence in Youth Sports Day," for sometime in March.
John Small, an All-American at The Citadel and a former Atlanta Falcons tackle, was in Augusta on Wednesday to lend support to the CSRA Youth Sports Coalition and praise them for the program the agencies are putting together.
"I'm here because of you and the youth," Small said to the members of the coalition. "When Charlie (Bealle) told me `we have a program that we believe will help kids to help change lives of young people,' all he had to do was ask for my help.
"With what you have here and if you work together as a team, you will impact this city," Small said. "You have the ability to do something with sports and as a team - together everyone achieves more."
Literature has been provided to coaches and parents explaining the goals and objectives for the week.
Reach Miguelangelo Hernandez at (706) 823-3304.
A list of Agencies participating in Silent Sideline Week:
The Family Y
Richmond Co. Recreation Dept.
Columbia Co. Recreation Dept.
North Augusta Recreation Dept.
Boys & Girls Club of Augusta
Thomson Recreation Dept.
Lincoln Co. Recreation Dept.
Burke Co. Recreation Dept.
Aiken Co. Recreation Dept.
City of Aiken Recreation Dept.
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