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May’s Word of the Month: Sportsmanship

sportsmanship“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it.” – Knute Rockne

Sportsmanship is an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one’s competitors.

Teaching our children to have good sportsmanship is a skill they will carry with them the rest of their life. When children are involved in sports there is always winner and a loser. It’s our job as parents and coaches to teach children at a young age how to handle success and failures.

sportsmanship photo 2When a gymnast finishes a competition and prepares for awards, it’s important that each child is aware of the process. Not every child is going to receive a medal and they need to be aware of that fact. Some children will win many medals and will be on top of the podium all the time. These athletes need to practice good sportsmanship and congratulate their competitors during awards and accept their medal and or trophies with dignity and respect for their competitors as well as their teammates. Teaching children to congratulate their fellow competitors at a young age win or lose, is teaching them good sportsmanship.

“Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss.” – Doug Williams

When I was a young athlete just starting to compete I was always told to shake the hand of the person next to me on the podium, whether they beat me or I beat them. Even if the child knows before awards are presented that they won, it’s important for them to stay humble and wait until their name is called to the podium. This shows respect for their fellow competitors. If children learn these traits at a young age, as they grow and excel they will know how to act properly and display good sportsmanship.

Because, gymnastics is a sport where children are judged and given a score, it’s important to teach your children to be happy with their performance no matter what happens. Learning how to be a good teammate and have respect for your fellow competitors win or lose, is the best skill a young athlete can learn. This is good sportsmanship.