17,000 Referees Reveal the Real Problem with Sportsmanship in Youth Sports

From our friends at TrueSport:

Sportsmanship is one of the values adults hope children learn from youth sports, but new data suggests the kids might understand sportsmanship better than the adults!
Read this article to learn more about this survey of 17,000 referees and what it means for young athletes, their parents, and their coaches.

Teaching Players How the Respect the Game

By Dave Holt

One of my best coaching tips for baseball is this. Teach more than the game.

We baseball coaches are pretty good at coaching skills, coaching strategy and teaching baseball techniques. We are called to go beyond the X’s and O’s and baseball fundamentals.

We must take advantage to seek opportunities to teach more than the game. Baseball is our ‘vehicle’ that we use as an excuse to teach vital life skills and virtues.

If a group of baseball kids can leave us as better teammates, having learned to play by the rules and pulled together when times are tough, don’t you think you might have left a pretty big footprint on their lives?

My player expectation chart started with character. In my ‘character’ column I break it into (3) categories of RESPECT”. Incorporate teaching these points in with your coaching tips for baseball.

  • Respect for your family, school, classmates, teachers, coaches, community and church. Take time and effort to be a good citizen. Give back to the people around you. Look out for the needs of others. Be part of the solution—not part of the problem.
  • Respect for baseball equipment, facilities, umpires, and opponents. We do not ever throw helmets, bats or baseball equipment. It is dangerous, distrustful and destructive.
  • We always take care of our facilities and do our work duties around the ball field. We may not always agree with the umpires but we will be respectful at all times. We do not show up our opponents or run our mouths in disrespect.
  • Respect the game by always playing hard. Run hard, play hard, and practice hard all the time. Take special notice to grow and become the best teammate possible.
  • Pick up teammates when they are down. Pull together in tough times—do not look to point and blame others. Put the team before yourself rather than pouting and pulling others down.
  • Avoid bad things and bad actors. Stay away from tobacco, drugs and alcohol and your peers that do use this stuff. There is plenty of bad stuff and bad people in this world.
  • It is not hard to find illegal products and the people that can provide the stuff. Saying No takes courage and conviction. Pick your friends extra carefully. Temptation and peer pressure is real and powerful.

Evil is lurking at every corner to get our kid’s attention on the bad stuff. Resist bad stuff. Keep an eagle eye out for destructive habits.

I spent almost great 20 years in professional baseball as a minor league player, field manager, and various time in scouting, and acquiring players. I was with an affiliated ball club the Boston Red Sox and a few years in the Independent Professional Leagues.

I hardly ever experienced any players disrespecting another team’s players. Yes, professionals are highly competitive and we did get into occasional bench clearing situations. But, these incidents were not out of disrespect but more out of individual frustrations and backing up your teammates.

Now, I have a very different story in my years in amateur baseball. At every level I have coached in I have seen several obvious instances of mean spirited and unsportsmanlike behaviors.

I have seen coaches tell players to bench jockey my teams, fail to control their players’ mouths and look the other way when the dugout gets raunchy and classless.

My players often ask me if professional ballplayers razz the other team’s players. I tell them, “You know, pro ball players respect each other enough to not engage in stuff like that. Everyone is trying to survive just to keep a uniform on, therefore pros play hard, compete hard but rarely get into a mouth war with their opponents as peers.”

I want my team to be the classiest team we will see all season. My most important coaching tips for baseball is to play with class. Be humble in victory and sad but determined in defeat. No profanity or verbal abuse. No taunting opponents—only pull for out team. No arguing with umpires—and call the umps by their names.

Coaching Tips for Baseball Parents

Baseball coaches set the tone for your baseball parents. Baseball parent behavior is an extension of the baseball coach whether you like it or not. One of my biggest coaching tips for baseball is ‘set the tone’ for the behaviors you want from your spectators.

  • Parents are an example of good sportsmanship at ball games especially with the opponent’s fans, umpires and opposing players.
  • You are welcome to watch baseball practice. If you do, please situate yourself where you will not be a distraction. Stay in the seating areas.
  • Please do not talk to your child during practice or games until practice is over.
  • Please do not come on the ball field or near the dugouts at any time. Players should begin to take responsibility to bring their own gear and drinks.
  • Never coach your child or any kids from the bleachers.

Parents: Enjoy the games and support the players by letting them know you enjoy watching them play and are appreciative of the effort they put out.

After finishing his professional playing career Dave spent eleven seasons managing in the Red Sox minor league system helping to develop several major league ballplayers. After leaving the Red Sox Dave managed and recruited in the Independent Professional Baseball leagues. He has also coached collegiate wood bat and high school teams. His site, coachandplaybaseball.com is a wealth of information for baseball players and coaches of all levels.

Six great examples of sportsmanship

From our friends at True Sport.org. These are great stories and include the likes of Rafael Nadal and Peyton Manning. Read and be inspired!

Teaching Kids to Be Good Sports

By Dr. Darrell Burnett

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” – Heywood Hale Brown

Youth Sports: The Last Vestige of Sportsmanship

We’re living in an age where the preservation of traditional values can no longer be taken for granted. It seems we need to have reminders (books, movies, newspaper articles, etc.) to maintain our awareness of the importance of preserving the basic human values which are essential to the survival of a community.

It’s no different in the world of sports. The traditional value of sportsmanship is being challenged from all sides: professional, college, high school, and even in youth sports. There are some who say sportsmanship is becoming a lost art and that unless we remind ourselves of the essentials of sportsmanship and strive to maintain the basics of sportsmanship it will gradually fade as other values have done in our society.

In the midst of all this, it seems doubly important that we recommit ourselves to guiding our youth, reminding them what sportsmanship is all about, rewarding them for showing good sportsmanship and showing, by our example, that sportsmanship is still alive and valued in youth sports today.

Here’s a 10-item checklist for kids to follow as they try to develop a habit of good sportsmanship.

1. I abide by the rules of the game.
Part of good sportsmanship is knowing the rules of the game and playing by them. If a player decides to play a given sport, it is the responsibility of that player to learn not only how to play but how to play according to the rules which have been established and standardized to allow competitive games to be played in an orderly fashion. The more a player knows the rules the more that player can enjoy the sport.

2. I try to avoid arguments.
Part of good sportsmanship is anger management. Arguing with officials, coaches or opponents is often simply a misguided effort at “letting off steam” in the heat of competition. A good sport knows that anger can get in the way of a good performance. A good sport knows how to walk away from an argument and to stay focused on the game at hand.

3. I share in the responsibilities of the team.
Good sportsmanship implies that the player on a team is a team player. In other words, the player understands that his or her behavior reflects on the team in general. Moreover, a team player does not condone unsportsmanlike conduct from teammates and reminds players that they all share in the responsibility of promoting good sportsmanship.

4. I give everyone a chance to play according to the rules.
In youth recreational sports the more talented players, if they are good sports, will look out for and encourage the less talented players on the team, cooperating with coaching plans to let everybody play. Unfortunately, some coaches may become so preoccupied with winning at all costs that they never play some players, regardless of the time and effort they put in at daily practices, even when the score warrants clearing the bench.

5. I always play fair.
Honesty and integrity should be an integral part of sports. A player with good sportsmanship does not want a hollow victory which comes as a result of cheating (“dirty” fouls, ineligible players, performance enhancing drugs, etc.)

6. I follow the directions of the coach.
A player with good sportsmanship listens to and follows the directions of the coach, realizing that each player’s decisions affect the rest of the team. If a player has disagreements with the coach, the player discusses the disagreements privately in a civil manner, away from the public eye.

7. I respect the other team’s effort.
Whether the other team plays better, or whether they play worse, the player with good sportsmanship does not use the occasion to put the other team down. In the field of competition respect for opponents is central to good sportsmanship. If an opponent out-performs a player that player accepts it, learns from it, offers no excuses and moves on. If a player out-performs an opponent, that player enjoys the victory, but does not gloat, does not belittle, and does not minimize the opponent’s effort.

8. I offer encouragement to teammates.
A sign of good sportsmanship is a player who praises teammates when they do well and who comforts and encourages them when they make mistakes. Criticizing teammates in the heat of battle simply distracts from the focus of working together and gives the advantage to the opponent who develops a sense of confidence when seeing signs of weakness or a lack of unity in the midst of the competition.

9. I accept the judgment calls of the game officials.
Part of the human condition is making mistakes. Arguing with an official over a judgment call simply wastes energy. The player with good sportsmanship knows that errors may be made, but the player also knows that a game is made up of all the plays and calls from the beginning to the end of the game, not just the call in dispute. The player with good sportsmanship may be upset, but that player also has learned to focus his/her energies back on the game and on doing the best he/she can do for the rest of the game.

10. I end the game smoothly.
When the game is over, pouting, threatening, cajoling have no place in the life of the players with good sportsmanship, who emphasize the joy of participating, regardless of outcome. They’re not devoid of emotions but they know that their efforts to end the competition smoothly, without antagonistic emotional display, will help ensure that the games will continue in the future.

On a final note, a word of caution. We can’t be so naive as to think that by teaching and valuing sportsmanship in our youth we will ensure that they will take these values with them into their young adult and adult sports lives. However, if we don’t expose them to the essentials of sportsmanship, and if we don’t guide them in developing a sense of good sportsmanship, we can all but guarantee that they will fall prey to the young adult and adult world of sports and athletics, with its continued tendency to minimize sportsmanship, and maximize winning as the only real value in competitive athletics.

Sportsmanship Checklist for Kids

1. I abide by the rules of the game.
2. I try to avoid arguments.
3. I share in the responsibilities of the team.
4. I give everyone a chance to play according to the rules.
5. I always play fair.
6. I follow the directions of the coach.
7. I respect the other team’s effort.
8. I offer encouragement to my teammates.
9. I accept the judgment calls of the game officials.
10. I end the game smoothly.

Sportsmanship is the ability to:

  • win without gloating
  • lose without complaining
  • treat your opponent with respect.

Sportsmanship Tips:

  • If you make a mistake, don’t pout or make excuses. Learn from it, and be ready to continue to play.
  • If a teammate makes a mistake, offer encouragement, not criticism.
  • If you win, don’t rub it in.
  • If you lose, don’t make excuses.

Dr. Darrell Burnett is a clinical psychologist and a certified sports psychologist specializing in youth sports. He has been in private practice for 25+ years in Laguna Niguel, California. His book, IT’S JUST A GAME! (Youth, Sports, & Self Esteem: A Guide for Parents), is described at his website, www.djburnett.com, along with his other books, booklets and CDs on youth sports and family life.

Behavior Checklist (Part 3 of 3)

By Dr. Darrell Burnett

I maintain a “Fun is #1” attitude, with lots of laughter and a sense of humor.

Fun is the major motivator for kids in sports. In survey after survey, whenever youngsters are asked why they play sports, the number one reason is always the same – to have fun. Winning is on the list but it is last on the list. Kids like to compete, but it’s the fun of competing, the excitement of competing, not just the winning.

Research shows that kids learn better when they’re having fun. The effective coach is the coach who learns what fun is for the kids by getting into their shoes and seeing the world from their point of view, the world of fun. The effective coach knows that fun; laughter and humour are second nature to kids.

I emphasize teamwork and help kids think “we” instead of “me.”

One of the major cornerstones of self-esteem is developing a sense of belonging. We’re social animals and we need to feel as though we belong to a group. Youth sports offer an automatic sense of belonging (team name, team uniforms, team photos, team picnics, etc.) However, a coach plays a central role in making the “team” concept become a reality. The coach makes sure that all kids on the team get recognized, not just the “stars.” The coach does not allow teammates to criticize each other. The coach encourages parents to notice and compliment all the players on the team, not just their own kids, and not just the “stars.”

I am a role model of good sportsmanship.

In an age where sportsmanship is struggling to survive in professional, college and often in high school sports, the youth sports coach is the key role model of good sportsmanship. Youngsters are looking to the coach to show them the way in the three areas of sportsmanship; 1) winning without gloating, 2) losing without complaining and 3) treating opponents and officials with fairness, generosity and courtesy.

The task of the positive coach is to teach youngsters to be in control of their emotions throughout the competitive contest and afterward in their interactions with opponents and officials.

A final note.
As coaches we are human beings, not robots. In spite of the best intentions we may all have our bad days. Hopefully, using the items on the behavior checklist as guidelines, we will stay on task throughout the season, working toward our goal of offering positive coach support, doing our part to make each season a success where youngsters decide to come back next year and to stay involved in youth sports during their formative years.

Full Checklist (Print and save):

  • I praise kids just for participating.
  • I look for positives, and make a big deal out of them.
  • I stay calm when my kids make mistakes, helping them learn from their mistakes.
  • I have reasonable and realistic expectation.
  • I treat my kids with respect, avoiding put-downs, sarcasm, and ridicule.
  • I remind my kids not to get down on themselves.
  • I remember not to take myself too seriously during the game.
  • I maintain a Fun is #1 attitude, with lots of laughter and sense of humour.
  • I emphasize teamwork, and help my kids think “we” instead of “me.”
  • I am a role model of good sportsmanship:

(a) Winning without gloating

(b) Losing without complaining

(c)Treating opponents and officials with fairness, generosity, & courtesy.

Dr. Darrell Burnett is a clinical psychologist and a certified sports psychologist specializing in youth sports. He has been in private practice for 25+ years in Laguna Niguel, California. His book, IT’S JUST A GAME! (Youth, Sports, & Self Esteem: A Guide for Parents), is described at his website, www.djburnett.com, along with his other books, booklets and CDs on youth sports and family life.