Be a good sport: Teaching Kids about sportsmanship

Are your kiddos as crazy about sports as mine? Between football, softball, baseball, and swim our weekdays and weekends are filled to the brim with practice, games, and so many opportunities to teach the value of a very important virtue, sportsmanship.

I was quite embarrassed the other day when my daughter blurted out a not-so-nice comment about one of my son’s teammates while we were watching one of his games. Of course the boy’s mother was seated right near us, and yes, I’m quite sure she heard my daughter’s remark. I wanted to crawl under the bleachers. Time for a teaching moment! I swiftly pulled her aside and we had a little talk about the un-sportsmanlike nature of her comment. She felt remorseful and embarrassed and hopefully we won’t hear anything like that again. My son is really struggling with this concept right now too. He’s going through a stage where he melts down whenever he loses a game he’s playing, that includes board and video games. Yes, this topic is very relevant in our household at the moment and I’m still trying to navigate it. It’s also March madness, one of our favorite times of year, so the timing felt perfect.

so what is sportsmanship and why do we need it?

Sportsmanship is defined as:

  • Playing fair
  • Following the rules of the game
  • Respecting the judgment of referees and officials
  • Treating opponents with respect

Good sportsmanship is essentially the "golden rule" of sports, treating the people you play with and against, as you would like to be treated yourself.

Good sportsmanship is demonstrated when we show respect for our teammates, our opponents, for the coaches on both sides, and for the referees, judges, and other officials, as well as ourselves. It also includes the people who aren’t on the field – parents, and fans also need to be aware of their behavior.

Good sportsmanship is the heart of sports and demonstrates the beauty of the human spirit. It’s pure, it’s honest, and it makes it all worthwhile, whether you win or lose. It’s what makes sports fun and filled with passion. I can’t be the only one that cries along side my husband watching those ESPN stories! Being good is being a good sport, and I’m hopeful we’ll all learn a little something this month. 

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