How Parents Can Model Good Sportsmanship - Kingswood Oxford

Big Thinkers Blog

December 18, 2017

How Parents Can Model Good Sportsmanship

Debbie Fiske, Director of Athletics

All parents of student-athletes enjoy the excitement, intensity, and pride of watching their children compete on sports teams and cheering their successes in games and matches. Young athletes are always encouraged and heartened to see their parents in the stands rooting enthusiastically for them.

Unfortunately, parents sometimes become so intensely wrapped up in their children’s success that they lose perspective and engage in inappropriate and unsportsmanlike behavior before, during or after games. In doing so, they not only sour the experience of the game for players, coaches, officials and other fans but embarrass their children, themselves and their school.

By disrespecting the sport and its participants, they detract from the true purpose of scholastic athletics: the nurturing of skills, teamwork and resilience and the sheer exhilaration and fun of playing a game.

Drawing on the resources of the Positive Coaching Alliance, The Association for Applied Sports Psychology, and the Minnesota State High School League, I’ve compiled the following tips for parents to guide them as they nurture, encourage and inspire their student-athletes. In General

  • Express interest, encouragement, and support to your child and the team.

  • Learn the rules and strategies of the sport so that you can understand why certain situations take place.

  • Get to know your child’s coaches and the parents of other team members. Volunteer to help the team in any way you can and lend a hand when you’re needed and don’t be offended if the coach doesn’t take you up on helping.

  • Teach your child to respect the team’s coaches and to heed their guidance.

  • If any issue arises with the coach, such as playing time, strategy, or position assignments, encourage your child to talk with the coach rather than intervening yourself. Learning to deal with challenges through self-advocacy is one of the most important lessons sports can teach.•

  • Maintain a light, playful and open-hearted attitude. Be understanding and tolerant of your child’s learning process and celebrate his or her participation and successes.

Before the Game

  • Tell your child that you’re excited about the game and that you’ll be proud of him or her and the team no matter how well they perform.

  • Ask your child what he or she is looking forward to most about the game.

  • Encourage your child to try his or her best no matter how the game goes.

During the Game

  • Remember that athletics are an extension of the classroom and that players are learning about civility, respect, and courtesy from your behavior during games.

  • Exemplify good sportsmanship by positive cheering only. Never insult, harass or boo other teams, players, coaches or officials.

  • Recognize and show appreciation for an outstanding play, achievement, or sportsmanship by either team.

  • Refrain from yelling at officials or making gestures of displeasure. If you disagree with an official’s call or failure to make a call, be silent. If other spectators criticize officials, politely remind them to show respect for the game and its participants.

  • Avoid criticizing your child’s coach or offering advice to the coach. Refrain from shouting out specific instructions or strategies to your child or the team. Parental directives diminish your child’s independence and may contradict or undermine directions the coach has given to players

  • Do nothing that diminishes the players’ enjoyment of the game. Have fun and enjoy the game yourself.

After the Game

  • Thank the officials, coaches, and members of the other team for a well-played game. Congratulate the coaches and members of the winning team, no matter which side won.

  • Tell your child you enjoyed watching the game.

  • Praise your child for specific accomplishments. Rather than simply saying, “Good game!” instead say, “You made some terrific passes today,” or “Your backhand shots were very strong.”

  • When talking about the game, rather than offering your opinions or suggestions for improvement, ask your child: “What did you learn from that game? What was your favorite play? What was the most fun part of the game?”

  • If your child has a rough game, maintain a positive attitude and support system. Tell your child to keep working hard, get back at it, and “Get’m next time.”

  • Refrain from sharing any reservations you may have about the play of the other team, the officiating, or coaching. Don’t blame disappointing results on the weather, field conditions or opposing fans.

Above all, always show respect for the game, its participants, and yourself. Remember that your child looks to you as a role model of good sportsmanship, fairness, and positivity.

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