Since we’re sports fans, it’s a fun time of year at our house! We enjoy watching college and pro football on television. Our younger daughter currently cheers for the boys’ soccer team at her school, and our older daughter is playing intramural soccer at college.
It seems like part of sports these days is players demonstrating poor sportsmanship. However, it’s so refreshing to see men and women who conduct themselves with dignity and respect for others on the field or court. I think we all hope that those athletes are the ones our kids will look up to!
Even if your children aren’t involved in organized sports, they still have the chance to be good sports. Whether they’re playing Candy Land with their sister or tag with the neighborhood kids in the back yard, all of our children have opportunities to learn sportsmanship.
We as parents can step in and teach our children how to play fair and how to act properly whether they win or lose. Most of us have at least a bit of a competitive streak – and it’s always fun to win! But learning how to handle the disappointment of losing is part of helping our children mature.
Below I’ve listed eight lessons we can work through with our kids to help them learn to be good sports. It may take some time and patience, but hopefully, it will make the games they play more enjoyable for everyone!
1. Follow the rules of the game.
Don’t take a shortcut or cheat in order to put yourself or your team ahead. It’s only a fair competition when all the players abide by the rules.
2. Play your best the entire game.
Even if you or your team is losing by a large margin, don’t give up or quit participating in the game. Give it all you’ve got until the game is over. (Maybe Monopoly is the exception…)
3. Never make fun of others who don’t play well or who are just learning the game.
Try to be patient and help your teammates or other players as much as you can. We’ve all been beginners at some point!
4. Take turns (aka don’t make the game all about you).
Allow others to go first. Don’t be so bossy that no one wants to play with you…that kind of defeats the purpose.
5. Respect the coach or instructor.
Listen quietly when he/she is talking and then follow instructions. While we’re on this topic, I would include referees and umpires here as well. And yes, this applies to us parents! As fans, we can set the example in this area. (I admit to not always doing this well!)
6. Maintain self-control even when there’s a missed call or a bad play.
It’s the basketball player running down the court with his arms up because he thinks he was fouled and it wasn’t called…while the guy he should be guarding scores a basket.
Will unfair things happen during a game? Yep. And if there’s a right, official way to protest, that’s fine. Otherwise, just recognize that sometimes these things happen, and move on.
7. If you lose, congratulate the winner with a right attitude.
This one’s hard, and doubly so if your opponent isn’t exactly gracious about winning. But we can’t control how they act, only our response to them.
8. If you win, say “Thank you” when congratulated.
If others on the opposing team played well, compliment them on their performance. And it’s okay to celebrate, but not in a way that rubs it in the face of your opponent.
I’m not as competitive as some people, but I’m amazed at how involved I get when my daughters are playing sports. I have to remember to keep my attitude right so that I don’t set a bad example for them.
In case you haven’t seen this before, I’m including John Crist’s video where he imitates every high school sports parent. I’ll not say if I recognize myself in any of his comments! (If you’re reading this in email, click here to see the video.)
I hope these eight ideas will help us give our children a good foundation for becoming good sports and enjoying whatever games they choose to participate in. I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on this topic!