Respect for teammates, opponents, officials, and the game itself is a value of sportsmanship that needs to be modeled and practiced by everyone involved in a program. Humility is important to individual athletic development, and it is also the key to becoming a gracious winner or loser and a team’s dynamics.
It was a common theme from people on these two topics that some of the most valuable learning occurs in the moments many of us consider our worst:
This season I was reminded that our kids are hard enough on themselves when they make a “mistake” that they don’t need us as parents to remind them of it during or after the game. As parents, we need to remain positive during all aspects of the season. –Amy U.
Let the coaches coach, players play, refs ref, fans cheer - all ends well. --Carey Z.
Attitude has a huge impact on the performance of a player and the team as a whole. In practices and games, a team always plays its best when they stay positive. As parents and coaches, we are a huge influence on that positivity. In both success and failure, learning is always best acquired through encouragement. –Erika S.
While respect is a tough concept to teach, humility is a tough one to learn. Every game has a winner and a loser, and every athlete will make mistakes at some point in time. Learning to handle those moments with grace and humility is a critical aspect of sportsmanship:
First game of my last year of high school football, I carried the ball once. I fumbled and never got a chance to carry it again. It would be a few years later when it didn't bother me anymore.
The fumble taught me I'm not going to be good at everything, but the things I can do, I want to do well. --Craig M
One of the great challenges of sports is learning to set your ego aside and recognize what is the greater goal for the entire team. That is something I struggled with as an adolescent and find even to this day as a competitor is not an easy task. I was fortunate to have some strong mentors that helped me realize that winning was not always the most important thing and how I handled myself winning or losing as I walked off the field demonstrated more about my character than anything else.
My early years at the University of Sioux Falls were difficult to say the least as I bounced around in positions and sat the bench, but they might have been the most important years of my maturation as an athlete, coach and person. As our team struggled, I watched and learned from Coach Young what it meant to be humble and the importance of putting the team’s goals ahead of all things, even when this was trying to learn lessons from a difficult defeat.
Nobody likes to lose, but in the situations where mistakes occur or a team loses, we have an opportunity to demonstrate individual character. Those situations are only “failures” if we don't learn from them and improve. Coaches and parents are important role models in this area, so speaking favorably of opponents and officials is incredibly important. Helping kids keep emotions under control and support their teammates at all times is also extremely important to their individual development and the team’s atmosphere. We need to model respect in every aspect of the game and humility in winning and losing if we expect our kids to do the same.
The themes of discipline, determination, respect and humility form essential aspects of sportsmanship and success. The final theme that people discussed with me was ‘teamwork”…more to come.