8.23.2007

Good Sportsmanship: Not Just For Players

The season is about to turn and the practices have already started. The Fall sports schedules are completed and the games are ready to go. The athletes are preparing and the coaches are planning strategies. However, there is something to the phrase, "Winning isn't everything."

What is it that drives some people so far to that place where they feel that losing is bad? I have never been an athlete. My interest in sports is dismal. So I am sure that someone can call my placing this post "out of bounds", but the truth is that I have witnessed many, many situations in which people have lost control of their senses because of the possibility of not winning. The worst offenders are not the players, but rather the coaches and parents.

When I was in high school ministry, I tried to attend several games of the students to show my support for them. In the prayer before the games I never ask God to give them the win, but rather to keep them safe and provide the players with enjoyment. Sitting on the side-lines or in the bleachers, I remember so many occasions when parents lost their tempers at the refs for "bad calls" or at the coach for "not using my kid". Sometimes I would even see the players cringe at the sight of their parent's unruly behaviors or be brought to tears because they did not meet their coach's expectations.

It seems to me that when these things happen we lose sight of the real meaning of the sport. St. Paul tells us that we are to "run the race so as to win". That is correct. But, whenever there are several competitors, there is only one winner. Someone has to lose. How we handle loss is up to the individual. To sulk, snub, or lash out are characteristics of a real loser. One can never be a winner that way.

Keeping the Rules of Good Sportsmanship make us winners always, especially in the eyes of our Father.
Play Fair
Play the Best for Self/Team
Take the Results Well