We live in a highly competitive world. A world that values success, power and prestige over human kindness. Competitiveness requires a “win-at-all-costs” kind of attitude. Stomp all over your opponent because they are the enemy. They stand in the way of your goal.
Sports is one environment where this attitude is extremely prevalent. Society has lauded sports citing the finding that it is instrumental in developing performance character traits in young people. These aptly named “willing values” consist of desirable attributes like courage, determination, resilience, and self-discipline.
It is also supposed to teach sportsmanship. This quality includes values like respect, courtesy, fairness, a positive attitude and development of self-control. In the last few decades, attitudes of parents whose children participate in sports have taken a dark turn. We’ve all heard stories of parental bad behavior at their children’s sporting events. Violence at children’s games include assaults, verbal and physical, on other parents, officials, and even other children. Bad as that is, in August of this year, an incident at a youth game in Texas has left it grappling with murder.
Has sportsmanship died? And all those wonderful beneficial traits with it?
One of the responsibilities of parenthood is instilling good values into our children. Supporting your child in sports requires that you take a good, hard look at your own sportsmanship strength. When we face competitiveness in business and life, we must respond with stellar sportsmanship. We must demonstrate all that is good with competition to our children through our own actions. When we do, we build a better future for everyone as well as teach our children the values that build their character.
We live in community with one another. Living in community means that we help and support each member. When we build each other up as opposed to tearing the other down, we strengthen and improve our collective lives. When someone is weak, hurt or ill, it falls upon the rest of us to give that person a lift. Any community is only as strong as its weakest link.
Sportsmanship is an attitude apart from sport itself. Sportsmanship starts in the heart and works its way out. It can be done, and is being done. Here is a recent story on NBC that demonstrates the immense positivity that can result from showing kindness and building bonds through sports. The small gesture suggested by one compassionate adult and carried out by the opposite team’s members has a powerful impact on one and all.
Sportsmanship is a choice – in life, as well as the playing field. Which choice will you make – for or against it?
Copyright 2022, Monica Nelson