Athletes Examples of Sportsmanship
Last week, while attending the State High School Track and Field Event, I got to witness what I believe to be the best sportsmanship among a group of athletes, as well as parents, that I have ever seen. An event as large as this, which brings together athletes from all the classes of schools throughout the state, both girls and boys, would surely be a sportsmanship headache. Right? Wrong!
I got a rare opportunity to see sportsmanship at it’s best. Not only from the athletes but coaches and parents as well. It was a pleasure to observe. Time after time I have seen winners and losers embracing and shaking hands, congratulating each other on their performance. Not one time did I see anything that even remotely looked like a sore loser. Disappointment? Yes! Poor loser? No!
I saw young men and women on the field who genuinely seemed to care for each other. I saw fans in the stands cheering on their favorite runners, coaches encouraging their teams to do their best. Not once did I hear a fan yell at the officials, or downgrade a runner, not once did I hear someone complain about the coaching. No not once.
I saw athletes doubled over in pain and exhaustion and give it their all only to fall short of victory. I saw athletes helping each other as they suffered leg cramps and muscle pains, some from different schools helping their competition. I witnessed lots of laughter among the teams, everyone seemed to be having a good time. Competition was stiff but no one quit, no one walked off the track, everyone finished even those who were struggling. Never, have I ever observed such a thing at an athletic event. I went prepared for the worst and saw the best. A rarity indeed in today’s world.
I got back to the hotel and started thinking, “What is it about kids sports that makes adults lose their senses?” I know several times throughout the year, I observe or hear reports about incidents of poor sportsmanship that get so far out of hand, they can’t be ignored. Why does that happen, I wondered, nothing good ever comes of it. I’ve come to this conclusion, almost always and I mean almost, the problems are created by adults, not the students or the athletes. Adult criticism is heaped on student athletes, umpires and referees, and coaches and athletic directors equally. It even spills over into the stands and on the playing fields.
Separate the adults from the students and just like that it’s a different story. No name calling, no threats, no verbal abuse, no heckling, just plain old good fashion sportsmanship.
Student athletes, have opportunities to learn personal discipline, gain mental and physical skills and become better all around individuals by participating in sports. Sports participation helps reduce racism and boost self esteem, both among the athletes and the rest of the students in the school. Good sportsmanship can serve an individual well throughout his or her career and in their lifelong community involvement. We as adults can help them achieve their goals by setting the proper example for them to follow. It seems from what I have witnessed, we may be able to learn from them. All of our local athletes who participated at the state meet gave superior performances, both on and off the field. All were winners and I for one was very proud of them.
We certainly don’t need a generation of cocky winners and poor losers. We need a generation of citizens that continually strive to do better and bounce back from failure. That is the kind of future leaders that I saw this past week.
So, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself what kind of sportsmanship you exhibited the last time you were in the stands. Remember it’s not who won or lost, it’s how you played the game.