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The Importance of Sportsmanship

October 18th, 2007 · 11 Comments

On the heels of the unfortunate incident at Tempe High School last week, I thought it was appropriate to revisit the notion of sportsmanship. To our young Eagles who may not fully understand the concept… you know how Coach Gene always says “Do the little things right, and big things will happen”?. Well, sportsmanship is one of those “little things” that leads to “big things” happening.

So what is Sportsmanship?

Sportsmanship is a great tradition in sports and competition that means playing clean and handling both victory and defeat with grace, style, and dignity. This is the reason why you guys line up after each game to shake the hands of your opponents at the end of each game… win or lose.

Sportsmanship includes playing fair, following the rules of the game, respecting the judgment of referees, and treating your opponents with respect. As a general rule of thumb, it makes sense to look at sportsmanship in a similar way that we view friendship… treat the people you play with and against as you would 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.

Be a “Good Sport”… Win or Lose

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 touchdown 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 game. 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 game. 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 referees, and even spectators (who can sometimes be loud and obnoxious).
  • Stay cool. Even if others are losing their tempers, it doesn’t mean you have to. In the end, it’s 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 team.
  • Cheer your teammates on with positive statements – and avoid trash-talking the other team.
  • When the refs 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.

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.

Have a great Eagles day!

Tags: Football · Practice

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Coach Adam // Oct 19, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Great job detailing the aspects of sportsmanship. I hope that these young eagles will take what you said to heart and to always remember that the Eagles display good sportsmanship. Thank you.

  • 2 kate // Jan 10, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    nice information about sportsmanship

  • 3 mathew martin // Feb 27, 2012 at 11:23 am

    you guys suck make a better one plzz

  • 4 nathan philips // Feb 27, 2012 at 11:38 am

    this is good but this kid ^

  • 5 Alyssa // Apr 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    nice info. i really get it. 🙂 keep smiling 🙂

  • 6 Addison // May 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Thank you for posting this. It has helped me, as well as my teammates. Thank you for all of the good tips on becoming a better sportsman! 🙂

  • 7 deedra // Dec 5, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    thanks for this. it helped. i got a good essay outa what you said.

  • 8 TPEETA // Apr 11, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Thanks for writing this! Very helpful. I am writing a 500 word essay for a scouts and this helped much! Thanks!

  • 9 Ray // Oct 21, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    No way, me too!

  • 10 Cricket News Updates // Nov 22, 2013 at 4:24 am

    I am agree with you that sportsmanship is an important aspect of the activity, more so when we are talking about children learning life lessons…

  • 11 Dallas // Feb 14, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    This really shows the true importance of sportsmanship

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