⚾The importance of sportsmanship
Today I wanted to comment on sportsmanship.
No one likes to lose, but someone has to.
The winners need to learn that it’s unsportsmanlike to gloat, taunt, or rub it in.
The losers need to learn that they themselves are not losers, they just lost a game. There will be another game another day. There’s no point in complaining how unfair it is, how the refs are blind, or the other team cheated.
It’s easy to demonstrate good sportsmanship when you’re winning.
It’s not as easy when you’re losing.
Sometimes, when my hockey player’s team is losing, the kids lose their tempers. They start playing aggressively as opposed to skillfully. This often results in penalties, which only exacerbates the losing trend. My hockey player spent a good amount of time in the penalty box last year. This year, so far, not so much.
In the picture above, my son and his teammate are fist-bumping the second referee. Hardly anyone ever fist bumps the second referee (some don’t even fist bump the first if he doesn’t get in or stand near the line) because he’s usually somewhere out of the way. In the picture above, their team had just been embarrassingly beaten. The scoreboard shows 7-1. In hockey, that’s pretty bad. And that is just when the scorekeeper stopped keeping score. The score was actually run up a bit more. But my son and his teammate demonstrated sportsmanship and thanked both refs anyway.
Even more important to me than whether my son’s team won or lost is if he thanked the refs. It is an important way for him to learn to respect authority. Even if he does not agree with that authority, he needs to be respectful. Even if he does not want to be friends with another player, he still needs to be friendly. You don’t have to agree with or like everyone, but you do have to be polite.
You win some you lose some.
One final note: I don’t believe in participation trophies for kids older than five or six. That’s just not the way the real world works. One of my all-time proudest moments was a couple of baseball seasons ago when one of my sons gave a game ball he’d just been awarded to another kid who was clearly upset that he didn’t get the game ball.
My son told me, “my prize is on the inside. I know I played a good game.”