6 Ways to Encourage Good Sportsmanship

If your kids play sports, chances are you’ve witnessed some deplorable behavior by the opposing teammates, or worse, the parents or coaches!  Mighty Mommy has 6 ways to encourage good sportsmanship for kids and parents alike.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #234

6 Ways to Encourage Good Sportsmanship

Playing sports isn't just about winning and losing; it's about learning the proper way to react when you win or lose. And learning how to interact with others whether you win or lose plays an important part in good sportsmanship. You can learn good sportsmanship when playing sports, participating in school activities or even by simply working at the office. You demonstrate good sportsmanship when you show respect for yourself, your teammates, and your opponents, for the coaches on both sides, and for the referees, judges, and other officials..

As the parent of 8 kids who play sports, I can tell you firsthand that there is nothing uglier than watching a group of kids take the field to enjoy what should be a fun and healthy game and instead have it turn ugly—all because a player or fan gets disgruntled when things don’t go their way.  Today, Mighty Mommy has 6 ways you can showcase good sportsmanship for your little players and for those fans in the stand.

Tip #1:  Role Model Good Sportsmanship for Your Kids

How many times have you heard the phrase that kids imitate what they see?  Even if your son or daughter is in the dugout and you are in the stands, don’t think for a moment that they can’t hear or observe what is going on off the field.  It’s never easy watching an umpire make a bad call against your child or one of his teammates, but when your child plays organized sports, you might as well accept the fact that it’s going to happen.  Instead of flying off the handle and screaming an obscenity at the referee or umpire, praise the child’s attempted effort instead.  “Good swing, Michael.  Try again next time”   instead of “Hey Ump—go get your eyes checked—no way was that a strike!”  Just as important, when attending athletic events or watching them on TV with your child, refrain from criticizing or condemning athletes' performances.

See Also: Good Sportsmanship

Tip #2:  Give Praise to Both Sides When Due

Clap for a good play, no matter which team accomplishes it.   My boys play on a very well-coached team.  They don’t win very many games, but their coaches are patient. Theyuse bad plays as teaching moments, and are constructive with their criticism yet plentiful with praise when it has been earned.  Our pitcher gave up an unbelievable home run which was hit right out of the ballpark.  Instead of throwing a fit about it, he graciously went over to the opposing player who hit the home run off of him and shook his hand.  Did I mention he was only 12 years old?  What an inspiring moment for not only the players on both teams, but the parents on both sides as well.  My sons are still talking about it, and I’m hopeful it has left a lasting impression on everyone.


About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!