Monday, October 17, 2011

Jim Class: A Lesson in Sportsmanship

My sons have just recently begun their journey into the world of organized sports, a journey that I hope will last a long time and result in their signing professional contracts of some sort and buying their old man that fishing boat he has always wanted and a nice lakeside cabin in the North woods, you know, just to have somewhere to keep the boat.  Of course, the fact that I have to fight them to stop playing video games and get their uniforms on makes me doubt the statistical likelihood of this happening, but a dad can dream.

The reason my sons play sports, however, is not so that they can work out the kinks in their throwing mechanics at a young age.  It is not so that they have plenty of film to study and reference when trying to develop new aspects in their game (note to self: start filming more of their games so they have film to study and reference).  It is because sports teach us about life.

When played in a supportive and constructive atmosphere, sports foster valuable life lessons.  They teach kids how to compete in a healthy way.  They encourage teamwork and camaraderie.  They foster leadership skills.  They teach kids how to win and lose graciously.

As I am sure most of you know, yesterday the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions played in a tight game.  After the 49ers pulled out a close victory, the two coaches, Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers and Jim Schwartz of the Lions, ended up in an altercation on the field afterward.  If you haven't seen this already, please take a minute to watch the footage courtesy of Fox Sports and the NFL here.

So Jim Harbaugh, an excitable guy as a player and, apparently, an excitable guy as a coach gets a little too happy over his team's victory.  His handshake of the opposing coach is a little over the top.  He readily admits that in the post game interview.  Then, Jim Schwartz take umbrage to Harbaugh's celebration.

This is where I pick a side.  I don't always rush to do so, but I think it's important sometimes, particularly if you are trying to teach a lesson to your kids.  When one side of a scenario appears to be in the wrong and the other is not, it is fine to say, "Look, kids.  That guy is acting like a jerk.  Don't do that."  In this instance, the advice I would offer my kids would sound something like this:

"Boys, if another person is excited that they won at your expense and they are celebrating too much, just let it go.  Let them celebrate.  Tell them, 'Congratulations,' and walk away and don't look at them a second time.  Don't give them the satisfaction.

"You should definitely not chase them down and shoulder bump them well after the fact.  That's bad sportsmanship.  Furthermore, don't continue to try and chase them and get in their face after the same person is trying to just walk away and numerous people are trying to get between the two of you.  That makes you look psycho.

"You know what else you should keep in mind, kids?  Should you be a little off you game because you lost a close game and should you chase an opposing player or coach down the field and cause yourself to look like a sore loser, at least take a few minutes to decompress by yourself and cool off before you start talking about what happened.  You would look like a real cry baby if you started making accusations that the other guy pushed you out of the way when all he did was pat you on the back after your handshake.  That would be just sad.

"I almost forgot.  Most important of all, you definitely should not start complaining about how other guys celebrate wins and take it personally when you look like this...

and this...

on a regular basis on the sidelines or when you do mundane things like throw out a challenge flag in an overly theatrical manner like this...

"Because then, on top of looking like a sore loser, cry baby psycho, you will also appear to be a hypocrite.

"Now get out there and try to tear the other kids' heads off.  But make sure you offer to help them up afterward."

No comments:

Post a Comment