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Sportsmanship 1Kristi Kane

A local news channel recently announced that a 17-year-old boy who was playing soccer, was given a yellow card during his game by the ref, and in retaliation, punched the ref in the face. The ref was hospitalized. I was shocked by the boy’s immature and inappropriate behavior, but that shock was surpassed by sickness when I read in the Sunday paper yesterday that the 46-year-old ref (a man with a wife and children), had died Saturday morning from a brain hemorrhage due to this boy’s outburst of anger. The boy who was being held in juvenile detention for suspicion of aggravated assault, is now awaiting a different formal charge (most likely manslaughter), all over a game!

I realize that this is an extreme example of the consequences of poor sportsmanship, but with spring comes such a variety of outdoor sports, that it’s important to review the examples of good sportsmanship and go over them with our children. And for many parents, it’s a good time to evaluate the attitude we bring to the game as well.

One of our neighboring cities has a required class that all parents must take to review good sportsmanship in order for their children to play in any of its city’s leagues. Is this overboard? From the games I’ve attended with my own children, I don’t think so. Parents’ attitudes are a big part of the problem. I’ve heard parents scream, “Get him!” “Be aggressive!” and badger referees as young as 14. It’s ridiculous. It is a game. It isn’t the NBA, NFL, NHL or its equivalent, although good sportsmanship should especially be seen in professional leagues as an example to athletes and fans, both young and old alike.

 “Live Strong,” gives five rules for good sportsmanship:

  1. Respect your team.
  2. Respect the competition.
  3. Respect the officials.
  4. Win graciously.
  5. Lose gracefully.

There are many great attributes and character strengths that can be learned through sports: teamwork, leadership, discipline. The key is to use good sportsmanship no matter what. I can’t help but think if we all improved our attitudes at games, that we would walk away more satisfied with our performance and attitudes whether we won or lost.

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