Everyone’s a Winner with Good Sportsmanship

Parents have been scoring lots of points asking me questions about how to teach their children sportsmanship, or in the case of girls, sportswomanship.  Well let me see if I can make everyone a winner on this topic this week. 

Sportsmanship is when teammates, opponents, coaches, officials, and even parents treat each other with respect during an athletic competition.  It has been found that being a good sport on the field carries over into life situations in the classroom or other non-athletic situations and earns the respect of others not even involved in a sport.  Where do children learn the do’s and don’ts of good sportsmanship?  From us, as adults.

Often we see problems with sportsmanship as our children get older and move from focusing on fun and fundamentals to winning at all costs.  The best coaches and parents encourage children to play fair, have fun, and concentrate on helping the team overall while working on their own individual skills.

If you want your child to grow up and stay a good sport, here are some suggestions:

Hopefully tips like this will make everyone a winner when it comes to realizing the importance of teaching and reinforcing good sportsmanlike behavior with your child. 

 Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids