Where is the Sportsmanship?

This is a question that has plagued me for a while and it was time for me to just let it out.

I am sure this question can be directed to almost all sports, but today I am going to pick on Hockey as a recent event during my 7 year old daughters hockey game still resonates in my brain.

My daughter’s hockey team had a game against a team that was in 2nd place in the standings.  I think we were in last or 2nd last.   To say the least, the other team was a very strong team, and ours simply was not.  I don’t see losing as a bad thing, I think that with every loss, the kids actually learn something.  What bothered me that day was not the loss, but of how one particular parent behaved in the stands.  I will call the parent in question:  ParentX.   With every goal TeamX scored, ParentX, would scream and yell cheering on TeamX.  I think it’s great when parents cheer for their kids and for their team, I do the same thing.  It only started to bother me when the other team was up 5+ goals and Parent X was STILL whooping and cheering like they won the Stanley Cup with every goal scored.  The scorekeepers are great in the sense that they don’t record the score on the scoreboard greater than a 5 goal spread.  This is a tactic to not make the losing team feel dejected and to encourage them to keep going.  Parents know that mostly all the kids keep a mental note of the score whether it’s on the board or not.  Nonetheless, I think that is a nice thing to do.

After about the 7th goal scored by TeamX, ParentX just went right over the edge!  He went from being a border line enthusiastic parent to a darn right *BLEEP*.    What made my blood boil was this:  a player from TeamX lightly shot the puck from CENTRE ICE towards our net.  The puck was literally trickling slowly to our net.  Our goalie saw it coming and knew he could easily bat it to the side.  He lightly tried to brush the puck away and the puck somehow squeeked under his stick and went into the net.  ParentX once again yelled and screamed like a banshee.  There wasn’t even any hockey players around the goalie, it was simply a mistake by our poor goalie.  I am sure he felt bad enough about letting that puck in, he didn’t need ParentX rubbing it in his 7 YEAR OLD face!!

Most of the parents on our team were mortified by ParentX’s behaviour.  With collective glares, I think he eventually got the message and quieted down around the 9th goal.  I think we must have lost 15 to 1 that day.  ParentX you should be ashamed of your behaviour that day in the rink. Crushing the spirits of 7 and 8 year old kids is just wrong!!!  These 2 teams are at the Novice C level, hardly NHL considerations at this time in their lives. 

What Is Sportsmanship?

Sportsmanship is defined as:

       playing fair

       following the rules of the game

       respecting the judgment of referees and officials

       treating opponents with respect

Some people define good sportsmanship as the "golden rule" of sports — in other words, treating the people you play with and against as you'd like to be treated yourself. You demonstrate good sportsmanship when you show respect for yourself, your teammates, and your opponents, for the coaches on both sides, and for the referees, judges, and other officials.

But sportsmanship isn't just reserved for the people on the field. Cheerleaders, fans, and parents also need to be aware of how they behave during competition. Sportsmanship is a style and an attitude, and it can have a positive influence on everyone around you.

Win or Lose, Sportsmanship Helps You Get Through

In the last few years, taunting, trash-talking, gloating, and cheap shots have become all too common in sports. You've probably seen athletes who take their own successes too seriously, too. They celebrate a goal with a prolonged victory dance or constantly brag about their abilities. This is the exact opposite of what sportsmanship is all about. This kind of behavior might make you feel tough or intimidating to an opponent, but keep in mind it can also cause you to lose the match. Plenty of games have been lost to penalties gathered from "unsportsmanlike conduct."

Everyone feels great when they win, but it can be just as hard to be a good sport when you've won a game as when you've lost one. Good sportsmanship takes maturity and courage — when you work really hard at a sport, it's not easy to admit you made a bad play or that someone has more skills than you. In competition — as in life — you may not always win but you can learn something from losing, too.

It's pretty tough to lose, so it definitely doesn't help matters if someone continues taunting you or your team after the competition is over. Sometimes it's hard to swallow your pride and walk on. But there's always the next match.

When you do lose — and it will happen — don't take it out on your opponent, blame the officials, or blame your team. Take it in stride. When you lose, lose with class. Being proud of how you performed, or at least being aware of things you need to improve for next time, is key. When it comes to losing, good sportsmanship means congratulating the winners promptly and willingly. Also, it means accepting the game's outcome without complaint and without excuses, even if you sometimes might suspect the referees made some questionable calls.

When you win, the trick is to be a gracious and generous winner. Good sportsmanship means acknowledging victories without humiliating opponents, being quietly proud of success, and letting victories speak for themselves. Even if you win by a landslide, good sportsmanship means still finding ways to compliment your opponents.

Practicing Good Sportsmanship

So what does it take to demonstrate good sportsmanship in real-life situations? Here are some examples of things you can do:

       Learn as much as you can about your sport. Play by its rules. Show up for practice, work hard, and realize that on a team, everyone deserves a chance to play.

       Talk politely and act courteously toward everyone before, during, and after games and events. That includes your teammates, your opponents, your coaches and their coaches, the officials presiding over the game, and even spectators (who can sometimes be loud about their opinions).

       Stay cool. Even if others are losing their tempers, it doesn't mean you have to. Remind yourself that no matter how hard you've practiced and played, it is, after all, just a game.

       Avoid settling disputes with violence. If you're in a difficult situation or someone's threatening you, seek help immediately from your coach or from an official. Remember, too, that if you respond with violence you could get penalized, which could hurt your chances of winning.

       Cheer your teammates on with positive statements — and avoid trash-talking the other team.

       Acknowledge and applaud good plays, even when someone on the other team makes them.

       When officials make a call, accept it gracefully even if it goes against you. Remember that referees may not be right every time — but they're people who are doing their best, just as you are.

       Whether you win or lose, congratulate your opponents on a game well played.

Fair and Fun

Good sportsmanship means not having a "win at any cost" attitude. Most athletes who don't have a "win at any cost" attitude are more likely to talk about how much they love their sport and how much personal satisfaction and enjoyment they get from participation.

Most people won't go on to play professional sports, and only a few will win scholarships to play at college. But many forget to have a good time during the years they do play because they're so focused on winning. And, unfortunately, parents and coaches sometimes put too much pressure on athletes, emphasizing winning at all costs. So although it's great to be a champion, it's even better to have enjoyed the process of trying to reach the top. It's best to play fair while having fun.

Sportsmanship Off the Field

Learning good sportsmanship means finding that the positive attitude learned on the field carries over into other areas of life. At school, for example, you're able to appreciate the contributions made by classmates and know how to work as part of a team to complete a project. You may enjoy more success at work as well, because a big part of learning good sportsmanship is learning to be respectful of others, including customers and coworkers.

A exert on Sportsmanship from:  http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/sports/sportsmanship.html



Robin Gyimesi

Robin Gyimesi

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CENTURY 21 John DeVries Ltd., Brokerage*
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