My time on this earth has likely surpassed the half waypoint and as the years click away, so seemingly does sportsmanship on the playing surface and in the stands. I remember being pulled off the 7th green in the middle of a golf match by my high school coach for using a rather common four-letter word after missing a putt. He also suspended me for the next two matches (and I was the second best on the team).
May seem a little harsh but you can be sure it never happened again. To this day, many have watched in amazement as my golf game has deteriorated with rarely an obscenity uttered. Coincidence, I think not. All I can say is "Thanks Coach." Far too many unfortunate events (obscenities, arguments, fights, near riots) have already occurred in this short basketball season and all I can do is hope that it is not a trend. Most of us have witnessed events like these and it seems that things are getting worse when they should be getting better.
Sportsmanship is just not for the athletes on the playing surface. It also applies to those of us in the stands, officiating, and cheering. For many, sportsmanship is just common sense, for other it has been instilled by our parents, coaches and fellow teammates. For everyone else, I respectfully ask that you print this out and take it to games with you. I don't claim to be a genius, but the following is a compilation of thoughts and ideas collected during my experiences as an athlete, a businessman, and a human being. For most of you these ideas will be obvious, for others they may be novel, either way these ideals are worth repeating.
Fundamentals of Sportsmanship
- Show respect for yourself and others at all times.
- Show respect for the officials. Have the willingness to accept and abide by the decisions they make.
- Know, understand and appreciate the rules of the contest.
- Maintain self-control at all times.
- Recognize and appreciate skill and hard work regardless of team affiliation.
- Act like an educator and a leader. It is an expectation of AIA, and should be an expectation in life.
- Set a good example for participants and fans to follow.
- Exemplify the highest moral and ethical behavior.
- Instruct participants in proper sportsmanship and demand that they make sportsmanship the number one priority, far above winning.
- Respect the rules and do not display behavior that could incite fans.
- Treat opposing coaches, participants, and fans with respect.
- Shake hands before and after contests.
- Develop and enforce penalties for participants who do not abide by sportsmanship standards.
- Treat teammates and opponents alike with respect.
- Abide by all rules and do not display behavior that could incite fans.
- Cooperate with officials, coaches, and fellow participants to conduct a fair contest.
- Accept the responsibility and privilege of representing the school and community and recognize it is a privilege.
- Display positive behavior at all times.
Parents and Spectators
- Realize that athletics are a part of the educational experience and that the benefits go beyond the final score of the contest.
- Recognize that watching a game is a privilege and not a license to verbally assault others.
- Respect decisions made by the contest officials.
- Be an exemplary role model by supporting both teams in a positive manner.
- Respect fans, coaches, officials, administrators, and participants.
- BE A FAN...NOT A FANATIC.
Cheerleaders and Spirit Groups
- Encourage the desired crowd response.
- Use only positive cheers, signs, and praise.
- Treat opposing spirit groups and fans with respect.
- Recognize outstanding performances on either side of the playing field or court.
- Know the rules and strategies of the contest in order to cheer at proper times.
- Maintain enthusiasm and composure.
- Applaud during the introduction of players, coaches, and officials.
- Graciously accept all decisions of the officials.
- Shake hands with participants and coaches at the end of a contest, regardless of the outcome.
- Coaches/players should seek out opposing participants to recognize them for an outstanding performance or coaching.
- Applaud the performances of ALL participants.
- Show concern for injured players, regardless of team.
- Encourage surrounding people to display good sportsmanship.
- Treat these competitions as games, not wars.
- "Coaching" from the stands or sidelines by spectators, fans, or parents.
- Confronting a coach, player, or official before, during, or after the game.
- Criticizing officials in any way.
- Refusing to shake hands or trash talking.
- Directing negative comments at opponents to distract and upset them.
- Using profanity, racial slurs or displaying anger that draws attention away from the game.
- Throwing objects onto the floor or at an opponent.
- Entering the floor or playing field at any time.
- Refusing to comply with the directives of any school official.
- Assessing blame for a loss.
- Any unsportsmanlike behavior exhibited by any coach or athlete should be subject to a verbal warning, then a one game suspension, and then dismissal from the team. Three strikes and you?re out.
- Any athlete or coach who receives an unsportsmanlike ejection at an athletic contest should be suspended a minimum of one game. Any subsequent ejects should be reviewed by the Director of Athletics, and a representative for that player or coach and may result in suspensions and/or dismissal from a team.
Parents and Spectators
- Because the actions of spectators, parents and/or fans are difficult to sanction, the following should be consequences for unsportsmanlike behavior(s) at athletic events.
- Verbal warning.
- Removal from a competition site by administration or law enforcement.
- Warning letter.
- Suspension from attending future contests.
- Exclusion from all extra-curricular events.
- Charges filed with law enforcement.
These shouldn't be suggestions. These shouldn't be subject to what school you go to, where you're from, your level of athletic ability, or what your last name is. This has nothing to do with talent, and everything to do with decency. High school athletics are supposed to be about building better human beings. Lets stop talking about this and start doing it.