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Good Sport, Bad Sport – How to Keep It Together on the Field


Lucky for us, we are finally back to watching sports on television. Kids’ sports are also making a big comeback, and there’s nothing better than sticking a lawn chair on the field to watch children or grands engage in fun sports activities. Recently, a photo of a sign has been circulating on Facebook from the “Town of Lee Little League” on sportsmanship. And it is worthy of sharing. The top line reads PLEASE REMEMBER, the next line, THESE ARE KIDS. The sign continues to say COACHES ARE VOLUNTEERS, UMPIRES ARE HUMAN. It ends with one last reminder: YOU DO NOT PLAY FOR THE YANKEES—all true and good to remember as we get back to sports and being spectators.

We all strive to see games played fairly. Occasionally, we may dislike coaches’ decisions, or bad calls may be made. And sometimes parents or grandparents may become upset when their kid isn’t picked to play. When my child was young, I recall watching a parent go berserk and get thrown out of a game over the matter of a foul ball. It’s important to remember that the primary reason for most childhood sports is for kids to have fun, gain self-confidence, and acquire new skills. Twenty years from now, kids won’t remember losing a game – but a parent’s bad attitude or embarrassing behavior will stick with them for a lifetime. So, when you see something is unfair, such as a bad call, you can choose to use it as a teaching moment or address it in a way that demonstrates respect. Remember that coaches and umpires are mortal people and most honestly make the best calls from their perspective. And they aren’t getting rich from coaching or umping; in fact, many are volunteers who enjoy sports and want to see kids succeed.

When parents or grandparents lose it on the field, they teach children negative behaviors and disrespect of authority. Most of the time, it’s best to sit back and let the game continue. There are several solutions if a person feels they must do something after disagreeing with a call. For example, they can allow the coaches to challenge poor calls, talk to the coach privately and calmly at an appropriate time away from children, or later privately explain to their child or grand why they disagreed with a specific call. However, it should be done matter-of-factly and not to make the child feel bad. Never should they shout or throw tantrums in front of the young sports players.

Children are in a state of constant learning, and many are sensitive to tough criticism. Sometimes harsh talk can break their spirit, and they may not want to play sports any longer. So, it’s best to be positive, provide sound advice that is helpful or allow the coaches to provide direction. It is never good to belittle a child, make a scene, or talk smack about other adults. Remember that you are your child or grands best role model, and you’ll want to be remembered as being kind, fair, smart, and reasonable. Someday, when they grow older, you’ll want them to look back at the time spent on the field and remember you fondly for the encouragement, positivity, and support you generously provided –  out of the love you have for them.

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