Good Sportsmanship for the Most Enthusiastic Fans: Parents
Sunday, September 18, 2016
How we treat our kids and the adults who support them through sports matters. While bad behavior may not be the norm, it does happen and when it does, it has an impact on everyone present, especially the kids. If you want your kids to have their best season yet, it may be wise to take a quick look at our own behavior on the sidelines so that we can all be inspirations rather than distractions from the game.
Positive Encouragement is Best
We all respond better to positive encouragement than we do to negativity or verbal abuse. If you want your team to perform well, let them know with lots of encouragement. Not happy with how something went down with either team? Keep it to yourself, your negative opinion won’t change the past and will probably throw off your own team or enrage the other side—neither of which is good for the game.
Support the Coaches
Joining a child’s sports team is a commitment for the whole family. As a parent, attend team meetings, read the rulebook, get your child to practice and games on time, and offer to help when you can. Remember that a coach has an entire team to manage and isn’t trying to sideline or highlight any particular child. Never ridicule a coach (even from an opposing team) and teach your kids to show respect for coaches regardless of whether or not you agree with their decisions.
If you have an issue to discuss with a coach, address it with him or her directly - not with the other players or other parents. Avoid gossip, disparaging remarks, and spreading rumors, as they are sure to destroy team cohesion, violate sportsmanship, and undermine the coach. Rather than keeping a coach after practice or a game to discuss an issue, give him or her a heads up and request a meeting at an arranged time. This allows both you and the coach to focus on the issue and to resolve it without distractions.
Remember that it’s the coach’s job to help every player do well. Your job as an enthusiastic spectator is to watch and cheer on the team. When the game is over, let it go. Don’t work with your child endlessly on skill sets, or berate them about the game or particular plays. It doesn’t help and could backfire by driving your child from the sport you both love so much.
Model Good Sportsmanship and Behavior
Regardless of your role on the court or on the field, your main job is to model good sportsmanship. Kids watch what we say and what we do and internalize it. They take their cues for how to behave from us, so if we want good sportsmanship from our children, we need to show them what it looks like.
Luckily, bad behavior is easily to control, even if it’s not coming from us but rather from another parent. Thwart inappropriate behavior from other spectators by informing a coach or referee, or by asking the person to tone it down in a respectful way.
At Borgman, we want everyone to have fun on the court and the field. We support parents and coaches who encourage young athletes to play with respect and display good sportsmanship.
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