Christi Whiting

(Photo courtesy of Metro Creative Solutions)

Let’s start with the definition of sportsmanship: “Fair and generous behavior or treatment of others, especially in a sports contest; ‘he displayed great sportsmanship in defeat.’

When playing a sport, you have an understanding and should be committed to fair play, ethical behavior and integrity, and general goodwill toward an opponent.

An athlete should be disciplined enough to have perspective, maintain poise and do what is best for his or her teammates. Being able to make appropriate behavioral choices at the “moment of truth” and in a pressure situation will often reveal a player’s true character and his or her ability to be a good sport. Simply put, sportsmanship is a choice.

Most athletes and parents would agree that sportsmanship is an important aspect of sports. Sportsmanship comes in many forms. Everyone can give a few examples of what sportsmanship looks like or what it takes to be viewed as a “good sport,” such as shaking hands before and after games, clapping for injured players once they show they are okay, helping another player up off the ground, or when treating an official with respect. These examples are just scratching the surface of how to display good sportsmanship.

As athletes, spectators, and even parents of athletes, it is all too easy to get caught up in the game and focus on winning. While most would agree that winning is an important part of the game, there is a positive way to play when winning or losing. Much can be gained and learned from athletic experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Good sportsmanship is one of those life lessons that should be intentionally learned, taught, practiced, and reinforced.

Whether it is winning or losing, do it with dignity. This is not just for the athletes. Regardless of your role in the game, it should go without saying that sportsmanship should be demonstrated by not only the athletes and coaches but also the parents and all spectators.

We should all be setting examples for each other. Yes, it is fun to win, but we don’t forget how it feels to lose. Have empathy for the losing team and remember how you feel when you lose.

Life can be hard, and life is not fair. And just like life, sports are hard, and the outcome is not always what you would like it to be. Remember that how you react to any situation is up to you. Choose sportsmanship every time. Sports can be a wonderful experience and a training ground for life’s challenges. Just like we win some and lose some in sports, we also deal with plenty of successes, challenges and failures in our lives. Let’s choose to be good sports in both the winning and losing situations and during our successes, challenges, and failures.