By Alice Munson, MSW, Courier & Press, May 9, 2017 –
Anyone who attends school athletic events has probably noticed negative behavior in a small percentage of parents. These are the folks who believe winning is everything, and the opposing team, players and coach are not deserving of respect. Forgetting the meaning of sportsmanship, they make their opinions known to anyone within earshot.
We all like to see our children or team win, but there is much more we hope our children will learn from their involvement in athletics. Here are some things that come to mind:
- Physical as well as mental challenges
- How to adapt to unforeseen problems
- Learning to show respect for the efforts of others
- How to share time and talent
- Learning to work harder and smarter to achieve goals
These are certainly lessons our children could use in day-to-day life outside of sports. Here are some additional benefits from participating in sports:
- Learning problem solving
- Learning to develop strategy
- Developing trust in one’s self
- Exposure to calculated risk taking
Looking at the last four benefits, you can see how easily they could translate to situations like standardized testing. This would certainly be a win for both athletics and academics so that these benefits could positively impact a student for life.
According to momsteam.com, here are some other behaviors you can model to make sure your child has a positive experience:
- Don’t view the other team as the enemy. Talk with parents and players from the other team to send a message that the game isn’t life or death.
- Congratulate and applaud ANY player (on either team) who makes a good play.
- Have fun! If kids see you having fun on the sidelines, they will keep the game in perspective and realize they can be good sports and have fun too.
Don’t condone poor sportsmanship. Don’t cheer on the coach or player who gets ejected from the game because of bad behavior. Rather, use this as an opportunity to talk to your child about poor sportsmanship at home after the game.
Take a look in the mirror. How is your behavior on the sidelines viewed by other parents, coaches and players? Are you keeping your cool, remaining calm and under control in tough situations? Children learn self-control by watching adults model self-control.
When we get caught up in the emotion of a tie-breaking play, we need to remember that we all want our kids to win and they all deserve respect. The essence of competition is sportsmanship – learning to be gracious in winning as well as losing.
This is a quality that everyone can model for his or her child. After all, we are our children’s first and most important teachers. Let’s give them something to be proud of – parents who are positive and supportive of their student athlete, team and coaches.
After all, whose game is it anyway?