Teaching Good Sportsmanship

    At a recent after-school Girl Scout Meeting, the topic being discussed was Sportsmanship.  The girls were earning a badge for their work that day. They were developing their own definition of Sportsmanship, listing 5 Things to Do and 5 Things Not to Do.   They had some great ideas for their things to do list like play your best, don’t argue with the referees, say ‘good game’ to your team and the opposing team.  I was surprised at how many examples of bad sportsmanship they had personally witnessed.  Some in games they were playing in and some in games they were watching. One shared how she saw two coaches yell at each other and resort to fighting.  One shared how she was at a MLS soccer game and the fans were yelling at the players ‘you suck.’  Great lesson there. One of my favorite comments came from a scout whose brother had participated well in a chess match.  Sportsmanship can happen everywhere.

    The next morning, my daughter had a soccer game in her rec league.  They didn’t win, but they played real hard.  And after the game they celebrated the birthday of one of their teammates.  Our coach actually got an email from the coach of the other team. He wasn’t able to be at the game, but his daughter told him that the team they played was really ‘nice’, they played well, showed good sportsmanship and actually shared birthday doughnuts with her team.  Sweet.

    Trophies2Go is a sponsor of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.  NAYS provides some great training for volunteer coaches that can help them teach sportsmanship to their players. You can check them out here www.nays.org  . In their Fall 2012 member publication they have a two-page spread titled Out Of Bounds.  This section includes stories of terrible sportsmanship including a little league mom who received  60 day jail sentence and 5 years of probation after threatening an official when her son didn’t make the travel team. Not a great teaching moment.

    David McDaniels, NAYS Coach of the Year 2011

    NAYS presents a ‘Coach of the Year’ award each year.  You can read about David McDaniels, the 2011 winner here:  http://www.nays.org/Coaches/Coach_Of_The_year/winners.cfm  Coach McDaniels teaches good sportsmanship and acts as a role model.

    We all need to remember that the lessons learned on the field will transfer over to the real world. The kids we raise, and coach and cheer on from the sidelines will learn their sportsmanship from us.

    Blessing, Anne.

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