While some might think that the practice of good sportsmanship is limited to the athletes and coaches on the field, the fact is that fans play a critical role in sportsmanship. The experts at Positive Coaching Alliance put together a Sportsmanship From The Stands Checklist – the things parents, grandparents, classmates, siblings and all fans in the stands – can do before the game, during the game and after the game.
Before the game, remind your child – and yourself – that practicing good sportsmanship is something important, something you together commit to, and something in which you and your child can take pride, regardless of outcome of the contest. Let your child know that you too will work on your commitment to good sportsmanship and will practice it in the stands.
During the game, work hard to not be “that dad” or “that mom” who loses their cool. While you think the spotlight is on the field, it’s actually on you in the stands in the eyes of your children. They see and hear it all. And during the game is your moment to demonstrate that you walk-the-walk and practice the very same good sportsmanship that you ask your kids to show.
Try things like “no verbs cheering” where you only clap, wave your sign, whirl your rally towel and yell “Yay!” No verbs helps you steer clear of coaching from the stands or criticizing your child or any others who are competing. Cheer for good plays – by both teams! When a controversial call happens, be silent – or maybe even give a “brush it off” sign to the team and fellow parents in the stands. If your child seems not to be paying attention during the game or is losing focus (picking weeds in the outfield?), resist the urge to say or do anything during the game. Save it for a conversation between you and the coach afterwards on what you can together do to help your kid stay engaged in the game.
Remember that they are kids who play sports to have fun and to learn. With learning comes mistakes. And traits like grit and determination happen when kids get the chance to struggle, figure out solutions on their own and overcome obstacles. Give them the space – and the quiet from the yelling – to figure it out themselves.
After the game, resist the urge to “break down” what you saw. Start with asking, not telling. “What was the most fun part of that game?” “What was your favorite play?” “What did you learn from that game?”
And above all – before the game, during the game and after the game, remind your children that you love them and are proud of them, win or lose. And that you are especially proud of them when they practice good sportsmanship. Who knows, your kid might quickly respond, “I’m proud of your good sportsmanship in the stands, too, Mom!”
Article courtesy of Liberty Mutual’s Play Positive website: https://play-positive.libertymutual.com/