Contrary to its name, sportsmanship is a trait that encompasses the great qualities which shape an individual into an outstanding team member on and off the field. It teaches children at a young age that playing fair and respecting opponents makes you more of a winner than scoring goals. According to amazingathletes.com, it is highly important that we start learning the trait of good sportsmanship at a young age. Children are especially impressionable compared to teens and adults, as this is a point in their life when their personalities and behaviours are molded for the future.
When it comes to great sportsmanship, children learn the ability by looking at their coaches, parents, adults, and peers. According to a recent survey, 75 percent of parents and coaches say that teaching sportsmanship is the responsibility of the parents, as they tend to have the most interaction and influence on their youth.
So, why does maintaining good sportsmanship matter? Here are five reasons why.
Five Reasons Good Sportsmanship Promotes Strong Character
- It teaches teamwork
- It emphasizes playing fair – compromising
- Your behaviour defines how you are perceived
- Provides an opportunity for life lessons
- Kids learn to win and lose with dignity
Adding to the list above, practicing good sportsmanship also teaches children about etiquette, respect, character, kindness, perseverance, and a myriad of other lessons. These lessons will be carried with that individual for the rest of their life, and will determine the kind of person that individual may become. On the flip-side, without understanding sportsmanship in both sports and life, youth are more likely to portray a more condescending and rude behaviour, that, once established, is difficult to escape.
…Ok, so good sportsmanship matters, but how do we practice it?
The Best Ways to Teach Youth About Sportsmanship
- Practice taking criticism as a chance to better yourself instead of a negative.
- Reenforce rules at home and reward winning when done fairly.
- Speak frankly about the action of listening. There’s a difference between hearing and listening.
- Make a point to reward respectful behaviour.
- Demonstrate how to encourage others and be helpful. No one wins or loses alone.
- Referees/officials are doing their job to the best of their ability. Show them patience and understanding.
- End each game/practice with a handshake.
- Remember, we learn through reward and punishment. Too much reward for only winning will downplay the importance of being a teammate.
We must remember the golden rules: always treat others how you would like to be treated, practice what you preach, and finally, your actions speak louder than your words. This applies to both our youth and their peers. Keeping these three things in mind will help ensure that not only are we teaching our youth a valuable lesson about good sportsmanship through our words, but we are showing them this lesson with our actions in life.
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