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The importance of sportsmanshipPosted Monday, January 18, 2010, at 4:33 PM
I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, lost almost 300 games, missed the game-winning shot 26 times. I've failed over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed. - Michael Jordan
Teaching children the importance of good sportsmanship is very important. It helps develop their characters, introduces them to the virtues of team spirit and teaches them to be humble in victory and optimistic in defeat. It also shows them the benefits of playing sports. However, teaching sportsmanship is one of the hardest things to do. For one, nobody likes to lose, and losers are routinely ridiculed in our society. Second of all, people that are unsportsmanlike seem to get the most attention, whether it be negative or positive. Finally, teaching sportsmanship to children means we have to watch what we say and do more closely as children learn just as much by watching, as by listening.
I know as a parent that the things I want to teach my daughter about sportsmanship is that everyone has feelings, we can't always win and it's not the end of the world to lose. Some of the best lessons have come from going to Sioux City Musketeer hockey games. We often sit around where the opposing team comes in and out of and my daughter will put her hand down to get shaked. Sometimes the players will shake or touch her hand with their hockey stick and sometimes not, but I hope she's learning that even the opposite team can be nice to someone sporting a bright yellow musketeer shirt. Along those same lines, we usually have her shout down to the guys "good game". However, I know we don't do this all the time and that's where I do need to watch myself, because sometimes, you just feel cheated by the team or by the ref.
More great lessons from hockey games:
Autograph night - not only does she learn to "share" a player and wait in line patiently, but she also gets to see how the players are like anyone else - they like to have fun, some are not as nice, but some are exceedinly so. (This is where I give kudos to Christian Minella, Travis Oleksuk and Steve Thompson for all their wonderful attention they paid to her and other children).
The Puck Toss - has taught her that no matter how much she loves to pick up all the pucks, it's good to share and watch out for little ones that cannot get through the big kids. After all, she has been one of those little kids that didn't get to pick up a puck and was devastated at one time.
After game run-ins - Just this last week we ran into 3 Indiana players at the Burger King across from the stadium. I made sure to tell them they played a great game the score was 1-0 ) and wished them a safe trip home, and they returned the wish also. I had to explain to her who the players were when we left (they had their warm-up suits on with the logo, which is why I knew), but her only reply was, "They were really nice." So I know, things are sinking in.
The not so great lessons from hockey games:
It never fails that things will be shouted during games that you cannot hide your child's ears from. Yes they will throw out people for being to profane, but there are many words like "suck" that don't quite make the cut. As my daughter hates that word too she usually replaces it with rock instead. It does give the "Hey goalie you suck" shout a whole new meaning, but I'm okay with that, especially when he let one goal through and our goalie let 5 through. One of the worst offenses in my thoughts though is when the national anthem is sung and at the ending line, "and the home of the brave" the fans yell "MUSKIES" over the word brave. I believe this is a total lack of disrespect for our country, for the person singing and for ourselves. After all sports should never come before country.
Finally the hardest lessons to learn are when she's actually playing, whether it be t-ball, taekwondo, dance or racing with the neighbor boy. The single most hardest lesson to learn is you can't always win. It has also be the hardest to teach. You try to encourage them and tell them "Maybe next time" or "well now we know we should work on this" but sometimes that's just not enough. The world must be against her because she didn't do this or maybe that neighbor boy just always win because he cheats. I'm still working on teaching this one thing, and I know it's a fight for a long time, because I remember being that way too.
However in the immortalized words of Yogi Berra, "It ain't over till it's over."
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I started blogging about my fun experiencing parenthood and have found it has evolved into more than just parenting - its an observation of life as we know it. I'm a bystander in this country just as we all are, and sometimes, opinions just need to be said without fear of being burnt at the stake.