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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Grace and Sportsmanship

I am often a last-minute writer for my column. This week I am glad that I was. Typically, even if I don’t have my column written, per se, I usually have an idea about what I want to write about. This week I was going to remind everyone to be good sports about the seating

I am often a last-minute writer for my column. This week I am glad that I was. Typically, even if I don’t have my column written, per se, I usually have an idea about what I want to write about. This week I was going to remind everyone to be good sports about the seating situation at Little League. But, alas, it looks like I don’t need to worry about that.

I’m not going to lie; I’m disappointed in the decision, but I respect the leadership at Little League that this was a difficult decision to make, and I’m sure it makes them no happier than the rest of us. So, I’m asking everyone to show Little League a little grace. They are in a challenging position and have a lot to consider, not the least of which is a group of children from across the country, many of which are ineligible for vaccination. The last thing I think anyone wants is for a bunch of kids to end up sick. So while I don’t totally agree with Little League’s decision to eliminate public tickets, I respect that they had a difficult choice to make and tried to act in a manner that had everyone’s best interests at heart.

So, with that being said, let’s talk about sportsmanship and how that translates into our everyday lives. Because I know that there will be a lot of y’all out there playing armchair quarterback and criticizing Little League, just remember that the basis of good sportsmanship is also the basis of treating others with respect, even if you disagree with them. Most of us aren’t out there trying to figure out the right answer to choices that can potentially impact thousands of people, so please be kind to those who are.

Children and adults learn many valuable lessons while competing in sports. Participating in sports helps solidify lessons in following directions and can teach athletes the value of dedicating themselves to goals. Sports also provide physical exercise and an opportunity to exhibit good sportsmanship.

Good sportsmanship occurs when people who are participating and those observing the sport treat one another with respect. This includes all players, parents, coaches, and officials.

While there’s much that coaches can do to instill good sportsmanship among their teammates, it is up to the parents and the players to help develop these skills. Here are some ways to encourage good sportsmanship.

Parents can set an example. Parents watching from the sidelines should refrain from yelling at refs or negatively commenting on their kid’s performance — or the performance of any other player, for that matter. Offer high praise for the effort, win or lose.

Maintain a positive attitude. Positivity can go a long way. Encourage others to do their best, and always put forth your best effort throughout gameplay.

Support teammates. Never criticize a teammate for trying their best. Always commend the effort.

Accept the officials’ decisions. Rules are in place to make the game fair and consistent. Follow the rules and accept when a ref, umpire, or other official makes a call. Do not argue the call.

Play fair. Never cheat or bend the rules to get ahead.

Be a team player. Do your best to involve the whole team, even those players who may need a little extra help. Showboating or hogging the ball to show off your skills is discouraged.

Win or lose with class. Always congratulate the winning team on a job well done if you are on the losing side. Accept the loss and own up to trying better next time. If you are on the winning team, shake hands with the losing team and wish them well. Do not gloat.

All of these tips can be applied to our everyday lives. It’s important in life to respect those in leadership roles and support those we are working with. To do our best to maintain some semblance of a good attitude, even when the day doesn’t go well. To do our part to work together with friends, family, co-workers, fellow students, etc., to be the best we can be. And to realize that life isn’t always going to go our way and figure out a way to move on — head held high — and hope for a better tomorrow.

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