Welcome back to Koa’s Field Hockey blog. In today’s blog, we will discuss the importance of sportsmanship and respect in youth sports.
Some may think being a good sport solely relies on shaking hands with your opponents at the end of a game; however, this is far from true. Practicing sportsmanship pervades all aspects of youth sports and instilling these behaviors in kids is vital to their athletic and personal success and it begins with the parents and coaches. Kids look up to their parents and coaches—and not just because they are generally a lot shorter than their elders—also because coaches and parents are revered in the eyes of the kids they teach. Parents or coaches who act uncontrollably or disrespectfully will send a negative message to a group of kids by teaching them that those actions are acceptable.
By coaching sportsmanship, you are telling children to be positive to the opposing team, as well as be respectful to everyone involved in games and practices. Sportsman-like conduct means extending good will to your own team and coaches, in addition to those you play against, as well as the referees and spectators.
Each player needs to be respectful of the opposing team in every circumstance—win, lose or draw. A great example of sportsmanship was shown in a softball game between Western Oregon and Central Washington in 2008 when one of Western Oregon’s players tore her ACL running to first base after she slammed a home run over the fence. The rule states for a home run to count, one must touch all 4 bases without from your teammates or coaches. Without hesitating, a girl from Central Washington asked the umpire if her team could help the injured home-run hitter reach every base so that the run would count. The umpire decided that this brilliant loophole was, in fact, not against the rules.
This is a great example of sportsmanship because without the help of Central Washington’s team, there would have been no home run and Western Oregon might have potentially lost the game.
So remember, while shaking hands with your opponents at the end of the game is an important act of good sportsmanship, there are many other acts (mostly small) of kindness that elicit the same message.
Every player needs to treat all of his or her teammates with respect both on and off the field. Regardless of how good or bad you think a teammate might be, you need to always treat everyone with kindness and respect. Your teammates are there to make you better and in turn, you are there to help make them better. This is not to say you have to be best friends with them, but never forget the Golden Rule (a mantra recited daily in most kindergarten classrooms): treat others how you would want others to treat you (there are typically more “do ontos” in the saying, but we all get the gist).
When you’re on the field things can get intense and you might want to yell at a teammate who seems to be more concerned with how their uniform looks rather than the game at hand, however you need to express your feelings in a way that is helpful; not hurtful.
You must respect the decisions of both your coaches and the referees at all times. You may not agree with every decision, but you need to respect their choice and move on with the game. Leave any controversy on the field between the referee and your coach.
Once the game is over it is appropriate to thank any official or referee for taking part in your game. It is not easy being a referee or a coach—these adults often receive a lot of slack for making tough calls during games. However, if you respect the decisions made by your coach and the referees, the game will be a lot more enjoyable and fun to participate in. Arguing increases the chances of getting ejected from the game, let’s not take that chance.
At the end of the day/game/practice, always remember that respect is the key to great sportsmanship and to being a well-rounded person. Aretha Franklin would never have won all of those Grammys if she had been singing about something of insignificant value, right? R-E-S-P-E-C-T, we certainly found out what it means!
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