In June 2010 Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was moments away from a no-hitter, a rarity in professional baseball. Only, he lost the no-hitter. Not because of his pitching, but because of a wrong call made by an umpire. After the close of the game and when the umpire saw the replays, he apologized with tears in his eyes for the mistaken call. Denied the first perfect game in the club’s history, Galarraga didn't rant and rave; instead he accepted the umpire's apology.
That is a great example of good sportsmanship on both sides of ordeal.
How do you teach your child not to gloat, to admit when they are wrong and to be a team player without throwing a hissy fit when things don't go their way? It starts when they are little and you continue throughout the years.
"There is no `I` in team," said Jessica, mom of two child athletes. "Therefore, there’s no `I didn't get enough playing time' or `I played bad.` You play as a team, you win or lose as one also."
Caryl, whose daughter plays hockey, said, "I keep reminding my daughter that it's just a game. Do your best, play hard, respect your teammates and yourself but learn from your mistakes -- everyone makes them -- and move on to the next game."
Even if your child is in an individual sport, there are usually other athletes training at the same time. It's critical for the child to learn how to play his/her best at all times, to take the coach's time seriously and avoid gloating and harping on bad calls.
"They should be taught that it is more important to try your best rather than being the best. They should be supportive of developing each others' skills, working towards overall team improvement," said Penny, a mother of a competitive gymnast.
Nicole, a mother of three, said that she has a family member attending college on a full soccer scholarship and what he tells parents of his 7th and 8th grade soccer team at the mandatory parents' meeting at the beginning of the season, "We are here for three reasons. Here they are...in this order: 1) learn the game, 2) learn TEAMWORK and 3) play our best towards a win." He wants the kids to be proud of the jerseys and goalie shirts they wear.
"It's awesome to win, but more important to learn the game and get along with your team," said Nicole.
We don't know how Galarraga was raised as a child, but one would guess that even as a youngster was raised to be a good sport by respecting himself and those he played sports with, no matter the surrounding situation.
It all starts with having a parent who is encouraging and doesn't criticize. Below are just a few areas to focus on in order to be sure your child does his/her best to be a good sport:
• Stick with the team throughout the season, do not quit halfway through
• Cheer on teammates, even when you are not on the field
• Attend all of the practices, or notify the coach if you cannot make it
• Arrive to practices and games on time
• Try your best both during practice and at the games
• Hold your tongue, remember, both teammates and opponents have feelings
• Always recognize the competitor before and after the game with a smile and a handshake
• Prohibit name-calling and sneering of any kind
• Enjoy the sport, if the fun is gone, switch sports