Be responsible. Take a break. Visualize yourself as a respectful spectator.

These messages, and more, are meant for adults — specifically those who parent a student participating in interscholastic high school sports.

A new six-minute video released by the National Federation of High School Associations, designed for coaches and athletic directors to use during their preseason parent meetings, essentially advises parents to calm down on the sidelines, and remember the true goal of their child's participation, before making a scene or confronting a coach.

"The one who suffers most from negative parent behavior is your child," the video says. "Negative parent behaviors can be embarrassing to your student and damaging to your relationship as their biggest fan."

"The Parent Seat" encourages a hands-off approach, explaining to parents that students want to enjoy being part of a team without having to worry about what their parents might do or say in the stands.

"It's not just New Jersey. There's a national epidemic going on where parents are either going after coaches or making complaints because something didn't go right for their kid," said Steve Farsiou, an assistant varsity baseball coach for North Hunterdon High School

As an attorney in Flemington, Farsiou has represented 15 or so coaches fighting to save their jobs after complaints from parents — petty complaints, as he describes them, over incidents that are being misconstrued as bullying under the state's strict anti-bullying law.

Farsiou said the NFHSA rightly refers to student-athletes in a positive way during the video, and not as part of the problem. Many times, he suggested, athletes get a sense of "entitlement and self-gratification" because of what they're hearing at home.

"It's way over the top clear as if they're talking to a 2-year-old, except that message is for parents," Farsiou said of the video.

In the wake of pressures from players' parents, a proposed state law under consideration in Trenton would require that high school coaches receive multi-year contracts, as well as create a specific process that would have to be followed in order to discipline or terminate them.

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