While most people think of sportsmanship as a participant's behavior during competition, my definition is much broader. To me sportsmanship is our behavior as players, coaches, and spectators before, during, and after competition. It is a lifestyle choice that matters greatly for the following reasons:
YOUR ACTIONS BECOME YOUR LEGACY- Perception is how people view you and is often based on what they’ve heard or what they’ve seen. People’s opinion of you can be greatly influenced by how you act in public settings like athletic events. Remember the old expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”? Unfortunately, it’s pretty accurate. How you treat those you compete with, compete against, and compete for will define how you’ll be remembered by your teammates and in your school. Play hard, but play positive. Be encouraging. Be respectful. Be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. Establish a legacy that you will be proud of.
IT AFFECTS YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE - Ever wonder why there are less and less kids playing sports these days? Statistics show that participation numbers are decreasing considerably because kids don’t feel appreciated and there’s too much pressure to win. In other words, it’s not fun anymore and they don’t enjoy it! Another problem is the number of coaches choosing to leave the profession early. Why? Because their integrity is under constant scrutiny and their motives for how they coach and who they play are routinely called into question. We also have a drastic shortage of qualified sport officials. The most common reason given for this unfortunate trend is the abuse they are subjected to by coaches, parents, and fans. Lastly, what about spectators? Have you noticed that you’re playing your games in half empty gyms and bleachers? People don’t want to hear their kids get publicly berated by critical fans, overly emotional parents, or frustrated coaches. When people behave badly, it has a negative impact on the game. TRANSLATION: If we don’t start treating one another with courtesy, dignity, and common decency, we are jeopardizing the existence of the very sports we love.
IT’S SIMPLY THAT THE RIGHT THING TO DO AND THE RIGHT WAY TO COMPETE - We don’t trash talk in band or choir, make rude comments at the play or musical, or tell our boss at work or a teacher at school that he/she doesn’t know what they are doing, Why? Because we have learned what the acceptable boundaries are in those environments. Sports has allowed poor sportsmanship to become an accepted norm, even though inherently, we know that it is wrong.
When you start making "how we play" as important as "who wins", we will recapture our love and enjoyment of the games we play.