What Are We Really Teaching Our Children About Sportsmanship?

Published: Oct 27, 2013 12:23pm EDT
By shaunmerritt, Entertainment/Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Oct 29, 2013 @ 10:12pm EDT


Stop me if you have heard this story, a game ends with one team beating the other by an unbelievable margin and everyone is up in arms about it. The latest occurrence happened in Florida where Estero High School lost to Naples High School by a score of 91 to 0. It has reignited the debate of sportsmanship in sports. Where most see a lopsided victory that undermines the spirit of competition and sportsmanship, I see a lesson that everyone should have been learning that sports, like life, is not always fair.

We keep scores to determine a winner and sometimes that score does not always end up in our favor. With all the concern about player safety, we forgot the most important mantra in sports, may the best team win. Sometimes that team will win by a single point, other times they will win by 91, but no matter who won, the essence of competition was that everyone did their best and no one quit. 

What once was pride in a job well done is now been replaced with participation medals and 5th place trophies. If you lost by a huge margin, it was used by coaches as an oppertunity to teach about why you should train harder so you can do better next time. Now over reactive parents use as a chance to complain how one team was running up the score and not being fair. So I have to ask… if that is the case, what we are really teaching our children about sportsmanship? 

I long for the days when no matter how the score ended, we all shook hands at the end and congratulated each other on a game well played. Everything was left on the field and nothing was taken personally. In the end, it was just a game. Now, we teach to win at all cost and if you don’t, something is wrong. What is so bad about acknowledging that another team was better and you lost fair and square? Are we expecting the other teams to stop trying to win? Not to give best their best effort? How is this fair to everyone involved? 

If playing sports taught us anything in the past it’s that despite our best efforts, sometimes we lose. Maybe it’s a bad bounce here or it just wasn’t our day, but we learned to brush of the dust and get back to work on becoming the best player we can possibly be. It’s a lesson we need to get back to teaching. The love of the game should be enough to get you through a season, not the promise of a reward at the end. I hope those kids at Estero High School learned those lessons. That next time they step on the field that I hope everyone remembers it’s not that they lost by 91 points, it’s that they helds their heads high and never gave up.

It’s like the great Vince Lombardi said "If you can’t accept losing, you can’t win."


Comments (1)

  • Anonymous   Dec 10, 2013 @ 12:53PM
    better quote: "show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser" -

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