Sportsmanship is the key to success

Published 9:05 am Tuesday, May 2, 2006

By Staff
Sports seasons are in full swing around Niles and Buchanan, which means a lot of cheering, crying and even yelling can go on at any field around.
Area baseball teams opened their seasons this past Saturday and the Optimist Soccer league has been active for over three weeks now.
With leagues such as these, where a number of children and parents are involved and tension seems to be high, we need to remember the importance of showing good sportsmanship.
Good sportsmanship occurs when teammates, opponents, coaches and officials treat each other with respect. Kids learn the basics of sportsmanship from the adults in their lives, especially their parents and their coaches. Kids who see adults behaving in a sportsmanlike way gradually come to understand that the real winners in sports are those who know how to persevere and to behave with dignity - whether they win or lose a game.
Parents can help their kids understand that good sportsmanship includes both small gestures and heroic efforts. It starts with something as simple as shaking hands with opponents before a game and includes acknowledging good plays made by others and accepting bad calls gracefully. Displaying good sportsmanship isn't always easy: It can be tough to congratulate the opposing team after losing a close or important game. But the kids who learn how to do it will benefit in many ways.
A child who bullies or taunts others on the playing field isn't likely to change the behavior when in the classroom or in social situations. In the same way, a child who practices good sportsmanship is likely to carry the respect and appreciation of other people into every other aspect of life.
Here are some suggestions on how to build sportsmanship in your child:
Unless you're coaching your child's team, you need to remember that you're the parent. Shout words of encouragement, not directions from the sidelines (there is a difference!).
If you are your kid's coach, don't expect too much out of your own child. Don't be harder on him or her than on anyone else on the team, but don't play favorites either.
Keep your comments positive. Don't bad-mouth coaches, players or game officials. If you have a serious concern about the way that games or practices are being conducted, or if you're upset about other parents' behavior, discuss it privately with your child's coach or with a league official.
When you're talking to your child after a competition, it's important not to dwell on who won or lost. Instead, you might ask your child, “How did you feel you did during the game?” If your child mentions that he or she didn't do well at a particular skill, like throwing or catching, offer to work on these skills with your child before the next game.
 Applaud good plays no matter who makes them.
 Set a good example with your courteous behavior toward the parents of kids on the other team. Congratulate them when their kids win.
 Remember that it's your child, not you, who is playing. Don't push your child into a sport because it's what you enjoyed. As your child gets older, let your child choose the sport he or she wants to play, and let him or her decide the level of commitment he or she wants to make to it.
 Keep your perspective. It's just a game. Even if your child's team loses every game of the season it's unlikely to ruin his or her life or chances of
 Finally, don't forget to have fun. Even if your child isn't the star, enjoy the game while you're thinking of all the benefits your child is gaining – new skills, new friends, and attitudes that can help him or her all through life.