It’s wonderful to watch a game where all of the players are good sportsman. Sadly, there are instances where this isn’t the case. We hear about them on the news and hear tales from other parents.
As a person who grew up watching my dad officiate basketball games, this story hit home. I remember many times watching players, coaches and spectators yell so infuriatingly at my dad that I feared soon the yelling would turn into physical harm. My mother recounted being worried each time she sent him away to officiate a game, fearing he might get hurt.
As extreme as the Portillo tragedy is, poor sportsmanship is rampant.
All too often we attend sporting events, and whether it’s a professional, collegiate, high school or Little League game, we see examples of bad sportsmanship. Not only do we see it but we expect it will happen. As parents and spectators, we often encourage it.
Why do we do this to our children? More importantly, how do we not only stop bad sportsmanship but teachgood sportsmanship?
As an athlete, coach’s wife, referee’s daughter and mother to young athletes, here are some suggestions I have picked up along the way.
Know the rules of the game. When you teach your children good game-play, the chances of them causing any trouble on the field is reduced.
- Teach your children how to be good winners and losers. Simply put, when you win, don’t rub it in; and when you lose, congratulate the other team and take the loss as a chance to learn and do better.
- Don’t blame. This goes for parents, too. All too often, blame for a loss or a bad game is placed on a coach or a ref. Placing blame is never good and only encourages your athlete to look to someone else as the one at fault, which is not only bad sportsmanship but a bad character trait in general. After every game, I make my son tell me at least five good things that happened in the game before anything negative. And I never let him place blame on the coach, ref or another player. This gives us the chance to discuss the positive things that happened, and then ease into the discussion on things that may have gone wrong and what he can do to make it better. All he can control is the way he plays, not whatever else is going on.