Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Simple Ways to Teach Children the Value of Sportsmanship: by Dave Roth

What is sportsmanship?

In our modern society, we tend to idolize the biggest and brightest professional athletes in the world. It’s not hard to do when they earn huge paychecks and endorse the products our children want cell phones, clothes, cereals, etc. While their accomplishments are often impressive, their sportsmanship, or lack thereof, leaves something to be desired. Sportsmanship is, at its core, the essence that partaking in competition is done solely for the enjoyment of the game or sport itself and not for the purpose of winning. It encompasses a sense of fairness, respect, and fellowship with one’s competition.

Yet when we turn to these professional ‘idols,’ far too often we don’t see the sense of sportsmanship that we would prefer to instill in our children. Instead, we are inundated with scandals, arrogance, and controversy. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, as the saying goes. And so it also goes that the more the media hones in on their failures , although they are not failures any one of us couldn’t fall into easily. So how can we teach our children the value of sportsmanship in our modern competitive culture?

The essence of the game

Games for children are meant to teach them rules, competition, and sportsmanship. Far too often, pressure is placed on winning and the rewards for winning far outweigh those that come with finishing second. First and foremost in any competition for children should be the enjoyment of the game, not the score or the final result. Does this mean that all competition should be eliminated? No. What it means is that, for children, sportsmanship should come before competition. We’re hearing more and more that children’s sports aren’t declaring a winning side. While it’s good they want to spare the feelings of the children, kids need to learn about being a good winner and a good loser, because life will certainly teach them that later if not sooner.

Teaching sportsmanship

Teaching children sportsmanship starts with setting an ideal example for them to emulate. If adults focus on the score, become aggravated or too intense when playing a game, then that is imprinted on children watching us. Some simple things to keep in mind to help teach sportsmanship include:

  1. Smile and laugh. Regardless of whether you’re winning or losing, keep a positive attitude about the game. Smiling is contagious and when it is associated with the activity and not the result, children will emulate this behavior more often than not.

  2. Reward positive participation. Don’t focus on the result. Win or lose, congratulate the child. If the child has a poor attitude or doesn’t acknowledge their competition, then reward should not be granted.

  3. Turn their attention to positive role models. Perhaps your child idolizes Terrell Owens. While talented, his behavior and attitude is the precise definition of poor sportsmanship. Point this out and then turn your child onto athletes who personify good sportsmanship.

Choose simple games first

A great way to teach children good sportsmanship is to get them playing simple games, such as bean bags. In fun, relaxing environment, winning isn’t what matters; the moments spent with family and friends is.

Author Resource:-> Dave Roth runs the SC Cornhole Game website, a store devoted to the game of Cornhole. They are suppliers of cornhole bags, corn hole boards, and cornhole sets.

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