Sportsmanship in athletics may start with the coaches but it is not enough to just teach it to your teams. In the day we live in, coaches must be willing to teach parents and fans about sportsmanship and hold them accountable if necessary.
When it comes to sportsmanship with parents and fans, it is mostly about promotion in advance. Early season parents meetings are a great time to talk about the importance of sportsmanship. Fans need to know what kind of things the school deems to be inappropriate. That conversation should probably start with parents understanding that like it or not, they are a representative of your school's team and others may get an impression of the school based on what they see at your football games.
Parents must also understand that players will make mistakes on the field. That young man is someone's son who may be sitting near you. To openly criticize high school players in the middle of the game loudly is just inappropriate. If the quarterback throws an interception at the end of the game and your team loses, it is not necessary to call out the player for a "horrible pass." The pros make the same mistakes (Seattle and Russell Wilson in the Super Bowl vs. the Patriots a few years ago).
Parents should certainly cheer for the team but should keep their comments in the scope of encouragement. And sometimes, it's okay just to sit down on a bad play and say nothing.
Most parents and fans need to evaluate their attitude toward officials. The coach should explain the need of quality officials and why there is such a shortage. Ask your parents if they would like to become an official and why they would not want to be a part of such an important group. We truly can't play the games without officials. An understanding of the training, hardships and pay that are a part of being a football official might give parents a different look and possibly more respect for officials.
Coaches should speak about sportsmanship at every opportunity they have to speak in the community. Signs promoting sportsmanship should be placed at the entrances and at other places around the stadium. These signs will help send a strong message of the school's intent to make sportsmanship an important part of the athletic program.
If parents violate the sportsmanship initiative, a meeting between the athletic director and other administrators and the parents who violated the policy should happen within a very few days. Have them understand the school's position on sportsmanship and consequences that could occur if they cannot abide with the sportsmanship policies of the school in the future.
It's time to bring sportsmanship back on and off the field of play. And it is up to coaches to take the first steps to see it happen.