Good sportsmanship is critical for positive Little League experience. We want the absolute best for our children.
Although it would be cool if they became starting shortstops in the MLB, it's invaluable that we take this opportunity to teach them leadership, respect, responsibility, and other values that will serve them for a lifetime.
Teaching sportsmanship begins with the parents. Read ahead for five ways to set an example for your kids.
Sportsmanship is about respect for the sport. That includes respect for the teammates, opponents, players, fans, referees, judges, fields, and even the locker rooms.
It's a commitment to decency and fair play above all.
There are many ways to teach sportsmanship. Here are five general ways to do with a few stories of sincere respect among athletes.
People learn what they see. If a child is exposed only to people to exhibit poor sportsmanship, they will only try to copy them.
Teach your child the importance of sportsmanship early by teaching them about stand up players. Instead of rooting for bullies and cheats, show them examples of exceptional sportsmanship examples throughout history.
Here are just a few examples of moments when players and organizations displayed inspiring character and respect.
There are few rivalries in sports as heated as that between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
Derek Jeter, legendary baseball player and Yankee great, has been a less than popular figure in Boston during his career. Despite this, he opted to play his final game at Fenway, home to the Red Sox.
The Red Sox brought out all the VIPs, including retired stars, to give Jeter a worthy farewell, and he took the time to say good to every player. This highlights the importance of respect despite competitive and dogged rivalries on the field.
On November 28, 2016, LaMia flight 2933 crashed near Medellin, Colombia, with over 77 passengers. Among them were nearly the entirety of the first team and staff of the Brazilian soccer club, Associação Chapecoense de Futebol. Only six people survived.
The Chapecoense team was on their way to play in the Copa Sudamerica championship match for the first time in their history. Winning this tournament is one of the highest honors that a South American club can earn.
The tragedy devastated the soccer world, and their would-be opponents, Colombia's Atletico Nacional, respectfully forfeited the match and Chapecoense was awarded the coveted trophy. The things we take for granted can be lost in seconds, and suddenly sports and wins don't seem all that important.
Many great athletes don't play on a field at all. This is the case of Pete Goss, a renowned British sailor, and adventurer.
Goss was participating in the prestigious 1996 Vendée Globe yacht race that spans the Antarctic Ocean. A French sailor, who wasn't even officially inscribed in the race, shipwrecked in a severe storm.
Despite precarious conditions, he selflessly abandoned the competition to join the search. Thanks to his courage and sailing ability, he found he sailor two days later stranded on a liferaft. The French government awarded him the Legion d'Honneur for his actions.
Sometimes it is much easier to show integrity when everyone is watching. Teach your kids how to be respectful when the cameras aren't rolling, the crowds are gone, and when it's not the popular thing to do.
Children are often exposed to bullying. Certain hazing traditions go far beyond harmless initiation rituals. Teach your child the difference between playful companionship and cruel bullying.
Great athletes support all their teammates, from the star players to the benchwarmers. The best ones use their voice and their leadership to stand up for those who need it most.
We all know about King James' reign of the courts. But he is also a proud father and philanthropist.
He is an active supporter of several non-profits, and he founded the Lebron James Family Foundation. His charity funded the I Promise School, an elementary school designed to help struggling students. He would go to say this was his greatest achievement in life.
He is also an outspoken critic of social issues, such as racism and inequality. A TV personality responded to one of his statements by saying that he and other professional athletes "just shut up and dribble" instead of talk about politics. Fortunately, Lebron isn't planning on shutting up but will keep inspiring young athletes to have a voice.
The entire world was shocked by the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Vanessa, and the other passengers on that fateful helicopter crash.
Athletes, coaches, owners, and fans came together to mourn and show respect. Kobe was admired for his dedication to excellence and skills on the court. However, it soon became evident he was so much more than a basketball player.
His efforts off the court include charity work, empowerment of underprivileged children, and he even won an Academy Award for producing Dear Basketball, an animated short film.
If you ever attended or participated in youth sports, you definitely know who we are talking about. There is always at least one person making a complete mockery of themselves and the sport.
They scream profanities at the referees for every call that doesn't go their way. They sometimes even get into fights with other spectators and, pathetically, child athletes.
Naturally, your child will mimic your behavior to a certain degree. So, take it easy with the jeering and the unnecessary gloating.
It seems somewhat ironic. However, one of the surest ways to foster sportsmanship is to teach that sports aren't everything.
Kids must know that there are a lot of things more important than winning trophies and setting records. Otherwise, they are less likely to value respect and honor.
Try teaching your kid a hierarchy of values. They have to know that, among other things, respect, family, responsibility, and education are more important than sports. This will help them put things in perspective when they lose or fail to meet their goals.
Remember that everyone is human and makes mistakes.
If you play sports, you have likely been there before. Maybe someone on the other team has been talking badly, and, in the heat of the moment, you commit a reckless foul, penalty, etc.
If our kid does this or gets into fights, the natural tendency might be to punish them. Modern psychology tells us there is a better way to educate our kids.
Good sportsmanship makes the game better for everyone. Sure, talking a little smack or doing a little dance after a play isn't going to hurt anyone.
Just make sure your child knows the difference between good fun, competition, and unsportsmanlike conduct.
Check out this blog for more articles Little League and being and baseball parent.