Sunday, August 30, 2009

Swimming and Good Sportsmanship

Dear Good Sports,

I'm sure that most -- if not all -- of us watched last year's Summer Olympics in Beijing, especially the swimming with Michael Phelps and Dara Torres.

And, of course most -- if not all -- of us remember the records they both broke and the honors they received.

But for some reason, I completely missed this event for which Dara was honored by the ICFP, the International Committee for Fair Play.

At the women's 50m freestyle event, Dara's competitor, Therese Alshammar of Sweden, had a swimsuit malfunction. Dara convinced the officials to delay the start of the event so that Therese could take care of her problem.

I think Dara's action that day says a lot about her personal values and ethics. It's also a great reminder that the goal of the Olympics, as stated in the Olympic Charter, is to promote and contribute to the practice of sport in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

It made me wonder: If that was in the Olympic Charter, what's mentioned in our sports teams' charters?

I decided to research swimming in honor of Ms. Torres. I found charters and mission statements for pools and swim teams from New York to California -- and they all shared variations of the same themes:

*... Empowering young people to be champions in life through excellence in swimming ...

*... Promote interest in the spirit of the sport and fairness in competition

*... Hard work, improvements and personal accomplishment can be more important than winning ...

*... Losing sight of good sportsmanship means the program is not worth sponsoring ...

*... Good sportsmanship for all participants -- swimmers, volunteers, coaches and spectators -- is mandatory ...

*... Foster and promote the values of good sportsmanship, honesty, perseverance and integrity ...

*... The good sportsmanship, honesty, courage, commitment, and perseverance developed through swimming will prepare our young people for the challenges they will face later in life ...

I'll end this sample list with the most important point of all:

*Good Sportsmanship is for all participants: swimmers, volunteers, coaches, parents and spectators!

I think it's really important for our children to know that if Dara Torres demonstrates these values during the most important competitions of her life, when she really wants to win, then we and our children can, too!


P.S. The ICFP was established in 1963 to promote "the principles of fair play which are essential to sport."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Good Sportsmanship Tee Shirts

Dear Good Sports,

Here's an idea that Elmira City School District in New York uses to help promote Good Sportsmanship:

Each week, a boy and a girl who demonstrate good sportsmanship are given a tee shirt in honor of their behavior.

It's all part of a program they developed that won them a New York State Sportsmanship Award from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

I think this a really great way to put some fun focus on good sportsmanship for your team's players.

At the start of the season tell the children that the player who shows the most good sportsmanship will be awarded a special tee shirt at the end of season party.

You can have the players come up with the criteria of what they think it means to be a good sport for their sport. You could ask them to design the tee-shirt. You could even have them vote on who should win it (although you may want to have Coach involvement/override so that it doesn't become a popularity contest, defeating the purpose).

By involving them in the project and keeping them excited about the award, it helps the children naturally focus on how to practice good sportmanship. Suddenly, it's not just something the grownups want them to do (and will forget about, they hope), it's something they may even start to do without consciously thinking about it!

So that it becomes part of who they are as a player -- and the values they have as a person. It could all start with a tee shirt. What could be simpler?

Let me know if you try it for your team. I'll be excited to hear how it works.


P.S. For another team idea, check out the Good Sport Bad Sport water bottles on
P.P.S. If enough of you contact me with your tee shirt designs, maybe we could have a contest for the winning shirt design!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Good sportsmanship -- more than just sports

Hello, Good Sports!

As many of us get ready for a new school year (hard to believe that some schools are already back) I wanted to share some information from an article by Dr. Michele Borba about "Poor Loser attitude."

Now, you can probably guess what Poor Loser Attitude and the Good Sport Bad Sport Blog have in common: poor losers are bad sports.

And you can probably guess what Poor Loser Attitude and the new school year have in common: poor losers in football, soccer and other fall sports.

But there's another reason to talk about Poor Loser Attitude and the new school year.

Poor loser attitude isn't just about sports -- it's a trait (or ailment, according to Dr. Borba) that affects children's attitudes in class, in relationships and other activities, too. And a new school year is the perfect time to rid your child of his or her bad attitude.

Dr. Borba lists 7 solutions to stop poor loser attitudes and boost sportsmanship but I wanted to talk about this one because I think it's a great reminder for us all:

Stopping Poor Loser Attitude starts with us (you and me).

Children learn much of what they know and how they act from us at home. If we parents make excuses for our behavior or blame others, or criticize Coach -- what do we think our children learn? A new school year is a great time for us to stop our own poor loser attitude -- and start providing good modeling moments for our children.

So, parents -- I'll be making sure that I'm a little more careful about what I say and do, doing my part to keep Poor Loser Attitude away from our house.

I hope you will, too.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Good Sportsmanship Award

Dear Good Sports,

I receive Google Alerts for various topics and I wanted to share this one with you.

Included in the Alert for good sportsmanship was an article by Jeff Edwards of the Natchez Democrat (Mississippi).

The headline of this article was "Natchez 10-year-old All-Stars win Sportsmanship Award."

The Natchez 10 team played in the Dixie Youth State Tournament against other All-Star teams their age from the state. The tournament also included 8 and 12-year-old-age groups as well who were eligible to win the award.

According to the article, the Houston Stuckey Sportsmanship Award (named in honor of the late Houston Stuckey, the Dixie Youth state director) is voted on by the tournament umpires and officials and awarded to the team whose players, coaches and fans "best exhibited integrity, character, discipline and sportsmanship."

Natchez Dixie Youth Commissioner Porky Smith said " ... the kids acted like young men when they got to the park, when they were on the playing field and when the game was over, win or lose. You didn't see any pouting. They showed they were fine young men, and they're just 10-year-olds."

(The players didn't win the tournament, but finished runner up.)

As "feel good" as this article is, that's not why I really wanted to share it with you. The reason is this last comment from their coach, Gary Farmer:

"... it all starts at home ... (the parents) raised a good group of younguns ... I have 12 great kids who have some great parents. They were always 100% behind the kids as well as the coaches."

Just a little reminder of the important role we Moms and Dads play in our children's sports development, sports enjoyment and sports behavior.

Until my next Good Sport (or Bad Sport) post,