The Role of a Coach in the Promotion of Sportsmanship
What should coaches do to improve sportsmanship among youth players? Does a coach have any responsibility in imparting sportsmanship? How should a coach behave when a decision goes against his or her team?
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Sportsmanship is the cooperation of people as a unit showing common courtesy, patience,
pride, and respect. It is the demonstration of generosity and genuine concern for others. It is a concrete measure of the understanding and commitment to fair play, ethical behavior and integrity. Sportsmanship is blending of cheers for “your team” and applause for the “opponents,” observing the letter and spirit of the rules and showing consideration for others. Sportsmanship is respect. Respect for others and the self. However, modern sport especially at the elite level does not reflect true sportsmanship. A lot of times, we see scenes, during live or televised matches, where players, spectators and even coaches swear at officials as well as using abusive words.
The highly visible actions of the players, spectators and coaches do not model good behavior among the youth and children who are genuinely in love with sport. It is therefore imperative that coaches take the lead in getting the players as well as themselves to uphold the principle of sportsmanship. This entails respect for the rules, officials, opponents and exercising self restraint when provoked.
Coaches must demonstrate and apply leadership, integrity, responsibility, self-control, knowledge of sport rules and regulations, honesty and sportsmanship at all times on and off the playing field. It is necessary and important that the coach carries himself or herself with a high sense of responsibility and professional disposition at all times because he/she represents the organization, institution, club, school, community, profession, faculty and student body.
The coach must set a good example for there are many followers and participants who follow his or her example. Coaches are on the forefront of facilitating the participants to enjoy the sport by preparing the team well so as to put on the best possible show. The game therefore is essentially for the participants. The primary justification for including the athletic programs in the total school curriculum is based on the fact that athletics provides both physical, social,
and character values for those who participate in them. Thus coaches must strive to instill these values into the players. The coach plays his or her role on a delegated basis as they represent an institution’s, organization’s or club’s senior management.
Responsibility of the Coach
As a leader, a coach sets the tone for all the other participants in the game. Therefore, a coach should:
- Exercise self control and be modest in victory and gracious in defeat
- Be as objective as possible in public and when addressing the media by making remarks related to the game statistics and to the performance of ones own team
- Teach sportsmanship and reward players that exemplify the true spirit of sportsmanship
- Not encourage or condone the use of profane or obscene language and other improper actions
- Take time to emphasize that disrespectful behavior will not be entertained. The coach should stress that disrespectful behavior, especially taunting, trash talking and intimidation is anti-sportsmanship and therefore will not be tolerated.
- Where appropriate and whenever there is an opportunity, instruct participants and spectators in proper sportsmanship responsibilities and demand that they make sportsmanship the No. 1 priority.
- Treat opposing coaches, athletic directors, participants and fans with respect. Shake hands with officials, opposing coach and players in public before and after the game.
- Exemplify the highest moral character, behavior and leadership
- Adhere to strong ethical and integrity standards
- Respect the integrity and personality of the individual athlete
- Abide by and teach the rules of the game in letter and in spirit to the players
- Set a good example for players and spectators to follow by refraining from arguments in front of players and spectators
- Avoid gestures which indicate an official or opposing coach does not know what he or she is doing or talking about and also avoid throwing object s in disgust
- Respect the integrity and judgment of game officials and treat them with respect, even if you disagree with their judgment
Coaches have an enormous responsibility to shape the social and moral values of the youthful players. They should therefore strive without ceasing to make a positive impact on the players by explaining, teaching, instructing and setting a good example of being a true sportsman or woman. The old adage that action speaks louder than words sets the tone for the coaches to “do” rather than just talk about sportsmanship. Practice it and let all participants see the good model in you.