RYC Youth Educator Jessica Lodato helps Rye's 3rd graders understand "Sportsmanship".
Together with Rye’s 3rd graders, we described ‘Sportsmanship’ as the qualities and behaviors that are deemed good for a positive experience in competition. We explored the qualities of a “Good Sport” and identified the tell tale signs of a “Sore Loser.”
Someone who is a good sport has an appreciation for the ideas of mastery and growth, the benefits of working hard and has an appreciation of not only their talents in their sport of choice, but the talents of their opponents as well. Someone who is a good sport encompasses the qualities of fairness, courage, perseverance and respectfulness, and exerts a sense of self-control. A good sport wants to see everyone excel and raise the challenge beyond just winning or losing. It’s a mature concept, but the seed was planted and the children’s thoughts about all this were wonderful! We applied this concept to all types of competition -- even video games.
So what does a Sore Loser look like? The kids described a sore loser as someone displaying unsportsmanlike behavior, such as acting out in anger, saying mean and discouraging things, or even cheating. Sometimes they may even yell and throw things or refuse to shake hands at the end of the game.
The children and I touched upon how it feels when we lose. Let’s face it, being disappointed, sad or angry is inevitable in competition. But how we recognize and deal with those feelings is what determines whether we are a good sport. Therefore we discussed the following:
"There is a time and a place"
Winning is great and losing is disappointing, even for adults. Referees can make questionable calls and sometimes the decisions of a coach or the performance of another teammate may cause discomfort. But ‘there is a time and a place’. When we are upset about losing a game, it is best to shake hands, say “good game,” and then go home, cool down. We can then process what happened and why we are upset. When we are emotional -- sad, mad or maybe even confused -- we can say things and behave in ways that can be hurtful. Once we have cooled down we can talk with our coach and get a better understanding of what might have gone wrong.
Never should we accuse a teammate for losing a game! A team sport is a team sport. Everyone plays a part in winning and everyone plays a part in losing, and it is important that the children are reminded of that. Remaining respectful and polite until things can be evaluated is never a bad idea. Someone has to win and someone has to lose, that’s why tie-breakers exist.
The question is “what good can we walk away with from the game we just played?’ Maybe we won or maybe we learned where we can improve. Winning and losing can make a game exciting, but playing a game or running a race is about so much more.