”One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it.” Knute Rockne
When I read that quote, I have mixed feelings because I believe that we have a responsibility to teach our students the importance of
good sportsmanship. However, if we don’t model it, and practice it so students see what it looks like, then our teaching
is in vain. In addition to our own actions, we also have a multitude of current examples of actions on and off the
field to help in our efforts to teach the value of teamwork and sportsmanship. Here are two examples to
get you started thinking about how easy it is to include current events in your teaching practices.
A local middle school has a student who because of medical issues can’t play football. He
desperately wanted to be on the team so the coach allowed him to come to practice and suit up for every game even though he couldn’t actually play. Recently, the coach talked to his team and
the opposing coach and this young man was allowed to enter the game. And….I’m sure you see where this is going! Even though it looked like he was
trying to be tackled, he wasn’t touched and ran down the field for a touchdown, and successfully ran for the two point conversion. Everyone on both teams had a part in showing
what sportsmanship looks like on the field. When interviewed, the coach said, sometimes there are more important
things in life than winning a game. Through his teaching, two opposing teams practiced sportsmanship that day.
Now, an example of how poor sportsmanship might be used as a teaching tool! I am a Kansas City
Chiefs fan and season ticket holder (yes it’s been rough year!!). A few weeks ago the starting quarterback was
hit and ultimately left the game with a concussion. The fans were “ripped” by one of the Chiefs players
for cheering when it happened. I was there and can tell you not everyone cheered as was originally reported, and some were
cheering for the fact that the back-up QB was coming into the game. However, even one person cheering when a
player is injured in my mind is inappropriate. One of the ESPN commentators later in the week said his concern was the
message it was giving to the “young fans”. I totally agree! And, unfortunately, that type of behavior is becoming more and more common at all
sporting events. The fans actions, and the way a player stood up for his teammate provided an opportunity to talk
about sportsmanship and teamwork. Events like can be used as well as those “feel good” stories as teachable moments with
Check out the Character is Cool Skillastics® kit for a great resource for teaching several character traits with a variety of fun and
challenging activities! And, so you know, for the rest of the football season I’ll continue to wear purple on Saturday
and red on Sunday! Go Kansas State Wildcats and Kansas City Chiefs!!