The world will be watching the greatest sporting event that occurs only every four years – the Olympic Games. For 17 days and glorious nights, people around the world will celebrate the ideals of the Olympic spirit.
During the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, each athlete takes an oath on behalf of 12,000 assembled competitors to abide by the rules of the games “in the true spirit of sportsmanship.” So, it’s during these Olympic celebrations, I want to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of sportsmanship on the field of play.
Good sportsmanship is when teammates, opponents, parents, coaches and sports officials treat each other with respect. Child athletes learn the basics of sportsmanship from the adults in their lives – mainly their parents and coaches.
Adults who emphasize good sportsmanship, view winning the competition as just one of several goals they'd like their children to achieve. This helps young athletes take pride in their accomplishments and, in turn, helps children to want to improve their athletic abilities. If children see themselves as winners, it doesn’t matter if the scoreboard declares them champions.
Here are a few ways to encourage good sportsmanship in your children:
- Set a positive example for your child. Applaud great plays – no matter which team scores.
- Remind children that when you lose, lose with class and dignity. Be proud of how you performed or at least be aware of things you need to improve for next time.
- If your child feels that he/she could have performed better, offer to work on improving that skill together before the next game. For example, practice playing catch before the next game. This will help your child’s self-confidence and will give you a chance to make lifelong memories by bonding.
- Stay cool. Remind yourself that no matter how much hard work your child has put into practice and playing in competition, it is, after all, just a game. Your child will see if you are upset about how he/she played in the competition and may put undo pressure on himself/herself during the next game.
- Instill “it’s how you play the game” that is important. Children need to understand that winning is not everything. Did he try his best? Did she have fun?
Remember that whether your child’s team wins or loses, your child is acquiring new skills, making friends and learning to be gracious. These are lifelong lessons that children will use at school, in the workplace and as parents themselves.
Encourage children to play fair, develop teamwork, try his/her best and, most importantly, have fun!
As we all know, Olympians want to win, but, without sportsmanship, no one wins.
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