Sportsmanship Through Friendships

Sportsmanship is the aspiration that athletes will play the "game" because of enjoyment, respect, consideration, and fairness. Ethics on the sidelines are sometimes depicted or drawn from frustration and lackluster of the outcomes. Most times it is the parents who need a lesson in sportsmanship.

During tournament season, which is year round it seems, we tend to lose sight of the life lesson we aim to teach our children. Parents and athletes alike become "sore losers" because losing is simply not an option. A sport is just something someone does and not who they are. The virtues of ones character should not change depending on the out come of a game. Persistence to win is encouraged; however, the way we each reach whatever goal we are aiming for is the important part behind it. We are leaders for our children, and our children depend on how we lead through example.

This past holiday weekend my oldest bean was taking part in a Turkey Shoot Tournament {LVTC}. We watched her team battle out on the field, take part in team events, and made more friendships than she thought possible this weekend. Even as an adult, there are many things to learn still. While watching her build these friendships, get through tough games, and battle against long time friends, I had to wonder if I was doing it right.

You hear the side lines. Other comments and judgment of children. It sobers even the most excited of parents. This tournament I heard things like other coaches down talking little players while on the field, girls missing out on the game because of adult egos, and cursing and yelling to simply prove a point. I then notice my frustration rising and taking part in the yelling that goes on across the fields and basically being embarrassed for myself afterwards. Allowing myself to be pulled into the effects of the sideline. I walked up to the other teams parents and shook hands, wishing them well and great game. prayed about my frustrations and was greeted with a sermon at church the next morning about forgiveness and thankfulness. How easy God can speak to you when you listen. Yet my sportsmanship still wasn't one I would want my children or others to learn from.

This brings me to the point of this post, one I am sure many parents think of when watching their children play any sport. Is it worth it?

My daughter taught me something. A lesson I think I needed to sober my way of thinking. It isn't worth it if she isn't happy. The friendships she made was the initial reason for bringing her into a sport. We, I ... lost track of the basic foundation of being an athlete. It is the characteristics that an individual builds, the discipline and commitment that a person keeps, and the friendship that one walks away with.

I watched April battle against some of her closest friends, ones that she gets little time with due to time constraints. I watched the emotions each battled as they knocked each other down, stole the ball, or stopped one or the other from scoring. Yet once they left that field, they were planning play dates, lunches, movie dates, and time together. Hugging and joking laughing about hitting the ground. These girls ended up battling it out in the championship game knowing one would walk away the winner and the other the loser. Yet good luck was wished and promises of fun times for afterward were reminded. Each team walked away with a medal. Parents had their own comments, even though none of us were or will be on the field. The girls though, left with their heads held high and smiles on their faces.

April is one of the lucky ones. Her friendships continue no matter the color of the jersey or the name scrolled across the front. But not only does she have that, she has the opportunity to make and build new friendships. Something she is immensely enjoying. I am learning from her, each and every day.
Soccer will be something for her to remember, but it wont be something that changes her character, nor mine. Not anymore.

Sportsmanship is not only meant for the player on the field but the individuals on the sidelines. This is something we could all remember for the next game.  My daughter has the sportsmanship I only hope for from here on out. It is worth it to see her become such a blessed little girl with God in her heart, her words, and in her actions. I am blessed she hasn't taken from me my faults.

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