Being a Good Sport – Not

Husband was telling me about a friend’s friend who coaches a football league in town.  The team (we’ll call it Team F) made it to the playoffs out of state, and played a team that had gone undefeated for several years, and happened to be supported by a celebrity.  Team F beat this team.  When the game ended and it was time for teams to form lines and slap/shake hands, the Celebrity Team refused.  As Team F was leaving to get on the bus the parents from Celebrity Team were calling them names I’m not going to repeat and screaming they were going to kill them.

Bravo to this celebrity for fostering this type of sportsmanship.  Bravo to the coaches and parents for showing these kids how to lose gracefully, and how to be respectful and professional.  I always enjoy seeing good role models out in the world.

Team F had the same thing happen to them in the championship game, which they won.  No celebrity was involved, but more inappropriate name calling and threats.  I think it is sad that this is considered common practice in many places.

Our school football team played a team last year and this year whose parents seem to follow the rules of rudeness.  Last year I was asked to go with another Mom and sit in the visiting section because they were harassing our cheerleaders – one of whom was mine.  We just went, and smiled, and had a presence.  They quit bothering the girls once we sat down.  This year their coach kept yelling inappropriate things at our cheerleaders (new school property, still figuring out where everyone needed to stand), and the parents were still rude.  I’ve heard that between the administration’s complaints and the parent complaints we won’t be playing that team again.

People need to understand that kids take their cues from what the adults around them are doing.  If they see those adults yelling inappropriate names and threats, they’ll think it is okay, and they’ll do it too.  But, if the adults do what they should, and they act appropriate and don’t say bad things about or to the other team, the kids will instead model that behavior.

Big as sports for kids have become, parents need to step up and do what is right.  Yes, we pay a lot of money for our kids to do these sports, and of course we want to see them win.  But not everyone can win, and losing needs to be done gracefully, and without inappropriate language and behavior.  When my girls teams don’t place well in a competition we don’t start screaming at and harassing the judges – even when we don’t agree with how it turned out.  Instead, we try hard to ask them if they had fun, and how they feel about it.  Sometimes we slip and say we feel they were short changed, but that is after we have left the competition, and we aren’t rude to anyone competing or judging.

Losing is a part of life.  Not easy, not fun, but it happens to everyone at some point.  I’d prefer my girls understand how to handle it in an appropriate manner, instead of screaming obscenities and threats.  It’s a lot easier to lose and be nice about it, and then go on with life in a happy frame of mind, instead of being angry and accusing, and dwelling on it for longer than it took to play the game.