This month we are going to be discussing the powerful word, sportsmanship.
Sportsmanship is usually associated with one’s attitude while competing in sports. However, good sportsmanship is important in all types of competition. Whether your child is reacting to scoring higher on a test than his best friend, not being selected for student counsel president or missing a turn while playing a board game, good sportsmanship is necessary.
And while “sportsmanship” typically describes how participants are acting while competing, sportsmanship can also refer to those who are watching from the sidelines. Are parents cheering from the stands with encouraging, respectful words? Are coaches and instructors acting appropriately? Research tells us that how the spectators act at an event can have a profound effect on the players. When spectators are positive, the players act more positively. When the spectators act more negatively, so do the players. We are all responsible for the
spirit of competition.
Good sportsmanship embodies the written and unwritten rules of a game. When we show good sportsmanship, we follow the known rules like “everyone gets a turn,” or “each competitor must wear the appropriate uniform.” But there are also “unwritten” or “golden” rules that we must follow. For example, good sports know that cheating, lying and bullying is wrong. They also know that showing grace when losing and kindness when winning is an important part of being a good participant.
As a key adult in a child’s life, it’s important to both talk to your child about good
sportsmanship and show her/him what good sportsmanship looks like. That means we need to adopt a “fun is number 1” attitude when watching our child or other children compete and adopt such an attitude when we compete ourselves. This does not mean that we need to pretend we are happy when we lose but rather show respect no matter what the outcome.
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