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Good Sporting

When playing sports you should know how to win and lose gracefully.

You should always be a good sport. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
You should always be a good sport.

Good Sporting

Being a good sport, or acting in a good sporting manner, can be challenging for both parents and children. Where is the line drawn between celebrating a successful game or achievement and rubbing it in the opponent's face? Those who participate in sports undoubtedly want to succeed and be a part of a winning team, but every participant should know how to win humbly and graciously. With professional athletes in the news for cheating at sports or throwing tantrums in the playing arena, it's important for parents to stop the cycle and instill proper sports behavior in their children. Knowing the keys to good sportsmanship can be something children carry into their adult lives, and it can be something to teach future generations.

Being a Good Sport

Sportsmanship means treating every player with respect, winning without bragging and losing gracefully. If a child's team wins, the entire team should be respectful and not rub it in. If the child's team loses, nobody should make excuses; instead, they should all learn from their mistakes and be better prepared for the next contest. Most importantly, children should remember to not blame anyone for errors or mistakes. Instead, teammates should offer encouragement, telling the fallen teammate that everyone makes mistakes.

Everyone wants to win while playing sports. Unfortunately, the odds are that one team or person has to lose in order for another team or player to win. Whether it's playing a game of cards with a parent or being a part of a little league championship game, children face the challenge of being good winners and losers. Preparing children to be good sports can go a long way. Children who don't get upset when they lose and don't gloat when they win will become known as kids who are fun to play with. Others are going to want to play with these good sports.

Teaching Kids to Be Good Sports

According to Kids Health, there are 10 tips for parents to teach their children about being good sports. Five of these tips include:

  • Be polite and don't trash talk
  • Don't show off
  • Listen to coaches and follow their direction
  • Don't make excuses
  • Don't cheat


Part of being a good sport is avoiding conflict. Players should never argue with officials, coaches or opponents. Directing spleen at another person is never a good idea, and this is a perfect example of poor sportsmanship. Unfortunately, according to a survey conducted by the Josephson Institute in 2006, of the 5,275 randomly selected high school athletes that answered the survey, 54 percent of male basketball players, 49 percent of male baseball players and 18 percent of females in all sports approved of trash talking.

Respecting adults, whether coaches or officials, is just as important as respecting opponents. No matter how much players may disagree with a call by an official or a direction issued by a coach, they need to respect the decisions made by those in charge. Not doing so can give off a negative vibe, not only from adults but also from fellow teammates and opponents.

Good Sporting Challenges

For years, children have wanted to walk in the footsteps of athletes. Parents hope that children select as role models athletes who are good sports, but there are some professional athletes that cheat to get to the top. It may be difficult for parents to explain steroid use to children, especially since children have been taught that they should never cheat to win or get ahead. Children should know that they can tell their coaches or parents if they suspect a teammate of cheating. Communication should be open between the players and the adults, and no child should feel ashamed for telling an adult about the possibility of a player cheating. Not doing anything would encourage the thinking that cheating is okay, especially when trying to win.

There may come a time when parents have a difficult time acting like good sports, so it can be difficult for a child to try to emulate that. Parents need to remember that children often mimic their parents; if a parent acts like a good sport, cheering for the team, not acknowledging mistakes and abiding by the rules, the child is most likely going to follow in those footsteps. Additionally, parents should never tell children that a game is riding on their performance. Putting that kind of pressure on a child can lead to undue stress or pressure and can lead children to snap at their teammates or opponents.

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