Negative and aggressive attitudes are something Bay of Plenty sporting clubs and organisations do not want becoming associated with sport in the region.
Over the past two years, Sport Bay of Plenty says there have been reports of a rise in negative behaviour at sporting events around the Bay of Plenty region, prompting sporting clubs and organisations, including Sport Bay of Plenty, to join forces to launch a campaign aimed to create a positive sporting culture by encouraging fun and respect across sport.
Sport Bay of Plenty sport manager Nick Chamber says they've only received anecdotal reports of people from all levels including players, parents or coaches making negative comments at sports events, and although there is no concrete evidence of the increase, they don't want it to become a problem associated with sport as a whole.
"We're hoping to continue to see a sporting environment that people enjoy at every level," he says.
Chambers says no one wants to see sports become a negative experience for any athlete at any level.
This is why Sport Bay of Plenty is facilitating the campaign - called Lead the Cheer - so they can identify problems and nip them in the bud in early stages to "act and protect that sporting experience".
"I don't believe it's a pandemic to be happening all the time," Chambers says.
There are more than 10 regional sports organisations contributing to the campaign.
The Lead the Cheer campaign will now form part of the key messages appearing in coach and parent workshops, and everyone involved in sport is encouraged to take the four pledge points to help Lead the Cheer: Encourage and focus on fun; show respect for everyone, praise effort and courage and let players play, coaches coach and referees ref.
Sport Bay of Plenty chief executive Heidi Lichtwark said everyone in sport, from parents, spectators and players to club officials, could play a role in making sport a positive experience for all those involved.
"A recent Sport New Zealand survey showed 84 per cent of participants felt they learnt essential life skills such as teamwork, communication and co-operation by playing sport. We also know that participation in sport creates healthier, happier people who are better connected to their communities."
She said everyone involved in the campaign had come together "to ensure that continues to be the case and to help put an end to any negative behaviour that may impact the involvement of players, referees, coaches or supporters".
"Leading the cheer is about ensuring our young players continue to enjoy physical activity as they grow, volunteers remain committed to their club and supporters keep watching games."
For the past 18 months, Sport Bay of Plenty has been working alongside regional sporting organisations, coaches, officials and local clubs to develop resources for the Lead the Cheer campaign. Consultation via steering and project groups helped the sporting community develop a proactive strategy to tackle any negative behaviours before they become a problem.
Sport New Zealand chief executive Peter Miskimmin attended the launch this week and was supportive of people working together to help future proof sport in the region.
"Everyone involved in sport has a responsibility to ensure that the experience, from the playground to top-level sport, is a positive one for all involved."