Modeling Good Sportsmanship
Children aren’t magically born with the ability to be a good sport. While playing fair is a learned skill, modeling good sportsmanship happens when we demonstrate what we teach. When parents and adults discuss and model appropriate play on and off the field, children will learn from their example.
Chances are you’ve witnessed that one parent at a kids’ sporting event. They’re the one who’s a little too into the game and out of control. They yell, tear down their children, rant at officials, and possibly use obscenities in the crowd. With their taunting, they disrespect a player’s need to concentrate. It’s an uncomfortable situation at best, and the behavior can also embarrass a child.
Is it easier to avoid sports altogether? Not necessarily. The simple answer is not to discourage your child against playing any sports, but be mindful that when it comes to good sportsmanship, there is no quick fix. Poor behavior in sports is a much broader issue when you think about those modeling it. Children might see defiance against officials, trash talking, and violence when they watch professional athletes on TV or in person. While these athletes may incur fines, they are still heroes admired by many children and even some adults.
There are plenty of reasons to continue encouraging your kids to play sports. When paired with a coach and adults modeling appropriate play and rules of the game, children learn much more than the mechanics of soccer or baseball. Both on and off the field, these individuals often shape the moral and ethical character of your child. A good coach recognizes that winning isn’t everything. Healthy character development is one of the major positive byproducts of a coach who emphasizes good sportsmanship.
Good Sportsmanship Guidelines
Demonstrating appropriate behavior on the field, and even in the workplace, is fundamental. It not only encourages a healthy play or work environment, but it also models for adults and children the values of respect, character, and the worth of every human being. Here are a few tips beyond cheering and clapping to coach you to good sportsmanship:
Remember, the best way to ensure a fun and healthy season is to practice the “golden rule” of sports, which is to treat others the way you’d like to be treated. This applies to teammates, opponents, coaches, and parents. Criticism and poor behavior will never earn a win, but modeling good sportsmanship is a sure strategy for success in your child’s life, both on and off the field.