Parents and Sportsmanship

Across America, concerned coaches, players, and parents wonder when did kid’s sports get so out of control? There’s no doubt that youth sports have become more competitive in recent years. Sports are no longer just an after-school activity or a fun Saturday morning pastime. Sports are fun and they promote exercise and good health. Sports also teach the value of commitment and encourage social interaction and friendships. Parents, coaches, teammates and competitors build sportsmanship, not the sport itself. How can you encourage good sportsmanship and be a good model on the sidelines?

Here are a few helpful tips to try:

· It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. It’s an old saying, but it’s never been truer. Focus on the process rather that the outcome, and have realistic expectations. Not every child will be voted MVP, but every child has a talent to bring to the game.
· Watch how you react to defeat. Make sure your child knows you’re proud of their efforts, not just their victories.
· Don’t force dreams of your “glory days” onto your child. Find out if your child really enjoys the sport they play, or if they are just playing to please you. Some signs are usually missed practices or fake injuries.
· Practice good sports behavior yourself. Show respect for coaches and referees, even if you disagree with a call. Acknowledge good plays made by both teams.
· Start early. Even the youngest child can learn the basics of good sportsmanship. Some sports programs now require parents to undergo sportsmanship education, or sign a contract pledging good conduct on the sidelines before their children are allowed to play. But the decision to encourage sportsmanship in children ultimately rests with parents. What message will you send your child at their next sporting event?