With good sportsmanship, we must look beyond respecting our coach and teammates—but also to supporting our competitors. Win or lose, respecting your opponents both on and off the field, court, or competitive arena is a sign of good character.

Cheer Don’t Jeer

The energy in the room, or on the field, is part of what contributes to the adrenaline rush. While some athletes drown out the crowd, others thrive from the applauds and encouragement. As a good team player, you will be on the sidelines cheering your teammates on. While you cheer or give encouragement, avoid the temptation to boo, trash talk, or name call your competitors. This doesn’t just go for student athletes, but for parents and coaches too. This also goes beyond game day. It still counts if you are disrespectful in the car on the way home.

Reward Good Sportsmanship

If you type “good sportsmanship at the Olympics” into YouTube or your preferred search engine, you will find a series of stories and videos of professional athletes who went out of their way to help their opponents. From wrestlers who help their pinned opponent walk off the mat, to a coach who replaced an opposing skier’s broken ski, to cheering opponents on from the sidelines. Encourage athletes to reward excellent sportsmanship with an end of season award.

Actively Engage Your Opponents

Many athletic programs have a tradition of shaking hands before or after the game, both coaches, and athletes. Or even a tradition of helping up someone you knock down. This is a sign of sportsmanship and respect and a character trait that transfers off the court.

Ask any athlete, and they will tell you that many of their opponents were once one of their most trusted teammates. Or one of their greatest opponents transfers teams and becomes a teammate. Between moving to a new school district, changing divisions, or age groups—the same will occur for your student athletes. Always treat everyone with respect, and you will never worry about recovering from your less than desirable behavior.

Show Your Love Of The Game By Playing Fair And Square

We know how hard you work, and how invested you are in your team. Don’t let your hard work go to waste by intentionally breaking the rules, cheating, or demonstrating any other poor conduct. The integrity you show speaks volumes about your character, but also for your love of the game. What’s the fun of winning, if you can’t win fair and square? If a worthy contender scored the goal or won the game—watch in awe, and use it as motivation to train harder.

Nobody Loves A Poor Sport!

Sports And Character Series: Respecting Your OpponentsParents and coaches must remember that student athletes won’t get things right every time. We must all be there to coach them through their areas of opportunity and cheer them on when they get it right. This is a life skill they need as an adult, so the sooner they develop it, the better!

Training at Competitive Edge goes beyond skill, but to being the best you can be—both on and off the court!

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