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The Death of Sportsmanship

Youth sports used to teach kids valuable life lessons. What happened?

Last week I was disgusted to observe the utter lack of sportsmanship displayed by a group of 11-12 year old girls during a Walton County Recreation basketball game.  I have watched this team play two games, and during both, commit numerous deliberate fouls, including elbowing another player in the stomach and jabbing fingers into another player’s eyes.  In one case a player shoved another player’s face hard enough to knock her to the floor. This incident resulted in numerous spectators jumping to their feet demanding answers. The coaches and parents from the offending team were defiant and defended the behavior. Sadly, the team in question fields some very skilled players, and would likely win all their games without having to resort to this type of conduct. Nevertheless they opt against sportsmanship, all the way to the final congratulatory “high-fives” at the end of the game, in which several of the team’s players refuse to participate, instead displaying a raised fist to their opponents.  The league could certainly do more to enforce the rules of the game and educate the players as well as their coaches on the importance of civilized behavior on the court.  What these girls learn in sports will be carried forward into all areas of their lives; they need to be taught respect for fair play and following the rules.

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Tammy Osier January 19, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Well, those grown folks are the brats of yesterday, only in larger bodies. Competition in sports should teach kids to learn to take disappointment as well as victory. It teaches them that you have to go that extra mile to accomplish something (those are the winners in life). Some didn't learn that and grew up to be today's little league parents. I appreciated Auburn league bck in the 90's when my son played for them. When we had a parent pitch a fit and draw a crowd, They were asked to leave. When their child did the same thing, he was put on the bench for a game. I guarantee both learned something. Today we tolerate anything. I guess the anything goes mantra isn't all that freeing is it?
Amy January 20, 2013 at 03:08 PM
When I was a kid, sports was truly recreational. My Mom made me join track because I was getting chubby. I was as slow as molasses, never won a race, but I had fun doing it. To this day, I still run. My boys wanted to play Football, so I spent my time and money to sign them up. I hated it. I hated the parents, their kids, just everything about the game. These people took it so seriously. The kids who were good at it, ruled the game and got to play all the time. Their parents ruled the other parents and got preferential treatment. I was over it. I never supported my kids if they wanted to play football again. Instead, I got a tutor to help them excel at their grades.
Tammy Osier January 20, 2013 at 08:57 PM
It's ridiculous. I wonder if anyone has ever done a a study on how wide spread this is.
Tammy Osier January 26, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Sports have a larger purpose if you think about it. Today, we played no contact football at one of the Detention Centers in Atlanta. Our Coach told the kids that ..."in the NFL, a lot of people play, but only one team wins the super bowl. Today, you may get picked for a good team, or not. If not, then play to get your skills up, play as a team player, and hopefully get picked for a better team next time. Learning to cope with loss and disappointment is a part of life. You learn to think things through when they aren't going well. Games help you to see where your attitude is. It may or may not be where it needs to be. If you win without effort, of course you have a good attitude. If you win having done the best you can, you get the pride of knowing what you're capable of. You can measure your results. But, losing teaches you how to take it in hand and try harder next time. How do you react to loss? If you can't take a loss and recover from it, then you 've got work to do." I like that. If a kid gets a trophy every time, no matter what they do, what does that teach? You end up with a kid feeling "entitled" to something he didn't earn. I had 3 kids ask me the other day if there a trophy at the end of the race (we were having an elimination race). That's the world they live in.

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