COACHES – THE REAL LEADERS IN SPORTSMANSHIP
For the athlete it represents an important dimension of their growth and the acquisition of values that are seldom found in a classroom.
The campaign to eradicate poor sportsmanship from the playing field and the stands is not over, but it is being won. The number of negative incidents, that have always been low but commanded more media attention than the game itself, are even more infrequent. Being a Good Sport and practicing Good Sportsmanship is more in vogue today than ever before because our coaches have added that emphasis to their repertoires.
Coaches understand the importance of being a role model, not just for their athletes but for their community. Ninety-five percent of our coaches understand values. They understand good citizenship. They understand the difference between character building and building characters..
Truthfulness, caring, respect, responsibility, fairness and citizenship. These are characteristics of the great coaches who model their lives on these pillars and they cannot help but be a powerful dynamic in the lives of their athletes. It permeates how they act in front of their players, the way they talk, the way they walk, the manner in which they respond to a young athlete who is having a bad day.
No matter how good the coach is, he/she can not do it all. Administrators have to give them all the support they can, and in the process, be intolerant of the five percent who are ruining high school athletics and the image of coaching.
When a coach acts up beyond what is considered acceptable, our administrators have to demonstrate the courage to meet the challenge. When you have a coach and program worth defending, administrators must willingly give their support. The part that few people understand is that the real test is not during the contest. The real test comes when the student attends class every day and exercises respect, responsibility, caring for teammates, being truthful and being a good citizen despite what the pros and colleges are doing
But what about winning? We hear all the time about the pressure to succeed in coaching. Everyone wants to win that is a given in athletics. But only one team or individual wins.
A game is a game, to be enjoyed for the moment in time be it the season opener, the conference title, the last game of the season or the state championship. The values remain with the game, win or lose, for the 95% of the great coaches we have. Some are state championship coaches; others are champions in their community and in the eyes of their kids.
We are getting away from the negatives we see on television when professional’s athletes after a championship win have player dog piles and fans storm the court or the field while the losing team waits to be congratulated. Instead an increasing number of players and likewise fans, at the request of their coaches, reserve those celebrations until the opponent receives its just congratulations for effort and sportsmanship and the trophies have been awarded. We have learned that it doesn’t detract from the thrill but that it enhances the total experience and emphasizes the educational experience of interscholastic competition.
Yes, coaches are the leaders in improving sportmanship. Yes, we can all do a better job, but let’s start with a “sincere thank you and praise” to the 95% of the coaches and their great job they do in emphasizing sportsmanship and the values that last a lifetime. It may be a brief word, but the coaches who know little things make a difference will appreciate your recognition.
by Bernie Saggau, Executive Director