Teach them well and let them play
THE recent images of violence on junior sports fields are both disgraceful and alarming.
To see juniors behaving in such a manner really raises questions as to how they are being taught to approach their sport, both from home and through their coaches.
It is not just limited to boys playing football but of equal concern are girls also showing poor behaviour on sporting fields and courts.
Have we gone to an extreme where the philosophy is “if you can't win the game, at least win the fight”?
If so, then it is a sad indictment of modern society.
We have slowly slipped down the sportsmanship ladder in so many ways and our juniors are seeing this from their sporting heroes.
From physical altercations to sledging, these elements are coming into sport at the expense of enjoyment and participation.
It is one thing to encourage junior to “get out there and have a go” but it is another to have them believe that “winning is everything, it's the only thing”.
What needs to be stressed is that in nearly every sporting contest, you are going to have winners and losers.
How you handle the outcome, I believe, is the true measure of a sportsperson.
A loss is never easy to take, whether you are playing or a supporter and watching your children suffer a loss, regardless of the sport , is even harder.
However, instilling in your children to have a go and try their hardest, should be the priority.
Chastising kids for not winning shows a lack of understanding on a parent's part - not every kid is a champion.
But every kid should be encouraged to at least try and taking this a step further, they should be taught by parents and coaches to accept the outcome and acknowledge their opponents and rivals.
We also admire sports stars who handle victories or defeats with dignity and grace - there seldom is much time given to sore losers (except in blooper reels).
Coaches have a very important part to play in teaching good sportsmanship since many kids pay more attention to coaches than their own parents. If coaches aren't interested in promoting good sportsmanship, they need to reassess why they are coaching in the first place.
Win, lose or draw - it IS all about how you play the game!