Sportsmanship for Modern Day Parents

I’m sure many of you have seen, either in real life or on social media, the sign at a ball park or sports field stating that “It’s just a game” and “No college scholarships will be handed out today.”Because these signs and posts keep popping up, I thought I’d get a little more specific with a few tips for modern day sports parents of school-age children. 

Cheering is the same on both sides of the field. 

It’s OK to cheer when the other team or an opposing player makes a great play.

The results of hard work at practice, or just incredible athleticism, should be celebrated and are not necessarily limited to your team. Playing against a tough team makes our players work harder and get better and, if we win, makes the victory that much more rewarding. Fostering a “love of the game” means we have to appreciate the team and players on the other side of the field. Without the other team, you’d just be watching a scrimmage. 

You’ve got the whole internet in your hands. 

Just because you have the entire internet in your hands doesn’t mean you have to use it. Be careful what you post on social media because it really is the interweb and we’re all connected somehow. If you’re posting something about the other team, it’s almost certain the other team will see it due to tags, shares, or screenshots. Good sportsmanship isn’t just the handshakes at the end of a game, so please don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in front of your own player.

Identified Flying Objects
(Other than balls).

Remember you’re there in real-time watching your real-life child. While it’s fine to record a video for posterity or stream a clip live, there are usually people sitting behind you in seats or on the bleachers. Holding ever-larger phones or tablets up above your head in landscape position for long periods means we can’t see our child or the game. If you must record, think about the old days when you’d have to kneel down in the aisle holding the suitcase-sized VHS camera in order to be unobtrusive and unobstructive. And definitely leave the drones at home.

Mistakes happen and we learn from them. 

We’ve all been there, so don’t yell or boo at that missed catch or overthrown ball. In sports, like life, there will always be somebody faster, stronger, or more genetically fortunate. If we’re supporting competitive sports only one team walks away with a win, but our children can still learn from those mistakes and losses. Let’s help them work through the mistakes and improve their skills so the same mistake is less likely to happen again, and a loss can still have moments of athletic greatness. 

Also, the same research that shows you don’t respond well to your boss yelling at you for a
mistake is applicable here.

Win or lose, as parents we should all want a fit, healthy child that had fun playing sports with friends. Remember a big part of the life lessons our children learn from sports will come from watching us watch them.