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SportsmanshipSportsmanship is the character, practice, or skill of a person involved in sports.This includes the participant, the parents, the coaches, and all spectators. Sportsmanlikeconduct includes fairness, courtesy, learning to be a good loser, being competitive without rude behavior, or experiencing any ill feelings toward the opponent.Too often in any sporting event, the purpose of the sport is forgotten. Winninghas become overwhelmingly important to the adults involved. This attitude isinflicted on the youth. People of all ages should be allowed to fully embrace thechallenge and fun of playing sports. Teaching, coaching, motivating, and winningare fine as long as the reason for the sport or activity is prioritized.The attitudes of athletes are instilled in them at a very young age. They reflect themotivation and goals of their parents, who sometimes push them into sports theywould not normally choose for themselves.
Play is essential in growth and develop-ment. Children who play sports with other children tend to socialize and adjustbetter as adults. Healthy competition provides a natural, emotional outlet for children, but shouldnot be forced or overemphasized. Competition should be kept friendly with theemphasis on participation rather than the outcome of the event. Parents should notpressure the child to excel, regardless of his abilities, because this takes away the funof the sport, adds undo pressure on the participant, and produces unsportsmanlikeconduct.Sportsmanship is participating in a sport, rather than performing, and realizing howyou play the game is more important than winning. Too many coaches and parentstend to forget the reason for sports for children. They get caught up in the excitementand competitiveness.
Winning is the ultimate goal, at all costs. The cost is the effect this attitude has on the children. I have witnessed this behavior from coaches andparents, where they have actually embarrassed and humiliated young players in frontof their peers. The negative effect this has on the athletes is obvious. They becomeaggressive, sometimes withdrawn and angry, rude, and inconsiderate.Sports are not just an activity. They form a stepping stone toward the future.
Sportsmanship teaches children how to interact with peers, how to relate and interactwith others. Sports can teach cooperation, sharing, and compassion. At a young age participation in sports introduces players to rules, and how to incorporate theminto other aspects of life. A child must realize that losing has absolutely nothing to do with self-worth, thattheir personal value is not measured by winning or losing, but doing the best that theycan in sports and life. It is important that children and adults be part of a group to feel acceptance, without the emphasis on winning.Self-confidence does not come from winning or losing, but how the outcomeis handled. If you perform to your best ability, then you have won the onlyimportant game. Sportsmanship is what the activity should be about.
Coaches and parents shouldrelax, enjoy the fact that their children are active and adjusting socially, have fun, and allow their children to have fun. They will produce healthier, happier, moresecure, self-confident, and less angry, frustrated children. Sportsmanship carriesinto every aspect of daily life. Winning and losing is part of every day life at everyage and every stage. We should learn and be taught through praise and example howto win and lose with dignity, humility, and self-respect..
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