Red Light, Green Socks: Tackling Poor Sideline Behaviour in the QRL

  • Integrity Blog

Sport has been plagued in recent times by reports of increasingly negative sideline behaviour.

While bad sideline behaviour has always existed, the advent of social media means we are increasingly aware of these incidents, whether we’re personally present on the sideline or viewing the flow-ons via social media in a rural town hundreds of kilometres away. 

The awareness of the depth and breadth of this issue was enough to make Queensland Rugby League (QRL) take action in the form of a new campaign to tackle poor sideline behaviour. 

QRL CEO Ben Ikin said that while passion in sport was encouraged, there was a limit to what types of behaviours qualified as acceptable, especially when considering the participation of junior officials. 

“People are passionate about sport, so they bring a bit of emotion to the event,” Ikin said. “The other element is that it's their kid, who's out there in the middle of the field. 

“So sometimes that can spill over into abusive behaviour toward other parents, staff, coaches or even young match officials that are out there doing their best to control the game. 

“Which is why we've introduced the slogan ‘If my socks are green, I'm under 18’, to make sure that people understand, if you lose your temper at a junior rugby league match official, you could be verbally abusing a minor.” 

The QRL’s Green Sock initiative is guided by 10 key pillars from respect for officials to ensuring enjoyment for all involved in the sport. 

Ben said that the well-received initiative will work in concert with the existing code of conduct to manage negative off-field behaviour. 

“Everyone has just been so positive about the initiative because it's not as though we don't know what the issue is. I think everybody has seen an example of bad behaviour from patrons or parents on the sideline towards match officials,” he said. 

“The view is that this concept will pull some people into shape. 

“It's an extension of our Positive Environment Program, which is a code of conduct that we introduced a few years ago that essentially calls out bad off-field behaviour when you're at junior games with the view that we want create a fun and safe experience.”

The QRL’s Green Socks initiative emulated the objective of the Play by the Rules Let Kids Be Kids campaign as well as Sport Integrity Australia’s own Play the Aussie Way campaign. 

Both campaigns are aimed at creating awareness around what is and is not acceptable behaviour at junior sports and the direct impacts that negative sideline abuse has on child participants.

What can you do? 

To learn more about how to address poor sideline behaviour and access campaign resources, you can visit the Play by the Rules or Sport Integrity Australia website. 

Stay Educated 

You can access the Sport Integrity Australia eLearning platform for a wide selection of behaviour focused training courses.

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