Sportsmanship. Dictionary.com defines sportsmanship as “The conduct and attitude of participants in sports, especially when considered commendable as in fair play, courtesy, and grace in losing.” I've been concerned about our sportsmanship lately. My concern has not been with the sportsmanship of players that I've watched. I see a lot of you exhibiting great sportsmanship. My concern has come from the rest of us, the fans.
I have been one of the worst offenders at different times in my life. I've yelled (and yelled and yelled) at officials, been angry with coaches for not agreeing with me, and told kids everything they did wrong rather than encouraging them to do their best.
Quick example: There is a clipboard hanging in my office with signatures from all of last year’s Stratford girls varsity basketball team on it. It has a split right down the middle. That split happened when I stood up to yell at the officials for making a (in my opinion) bad call. I got so animated and upset that I slapped the clipboard and split it in half. I was embarrassed by my actions. Here I was a grown man screaming at the officials and breaking clipboards over a missed call. What was the point? It didn't change anything. It just showed that I wasn't able to control my emotions. If Jesus had been sitting next to me, He would have given me a glare that said “Really Ben? Really?” Not my proudest moment.
Now that clipboard serves as a reminder. A reminder of the kind of fan I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be the fan that yells all the time, complaining about this and that. I want to be the one who supports my team, who encourages the players, and shows what it looks like to be a fan.
Our teams and the players we care about don’t need us to yell at officials, criticize, make fun of, or cheer against opposing players, complain about or make fun of the mistakes they make, get into verbal fights with opposing fans, and so on and so forth.
***What they do need from us is to encourage them. They need us to cheer for them, encourage them when they do well and when they mess up, help them improve their skills when we can, and most importantly, tell them we love watching them play!***
We often wonder how faith and sports can coexist. We think that sports and other extracurricular activities are in opposition of faith because we often have to choose between those activities and church activities. But let me tell you the CAN coexist! When we show good sportsmanship, WE LIVE OUR FAITH. When we encourage those we love and care about, WE LIVE OUR FAITH!
It is so easy for us to get so wrapped up in the emotion of a game or any sort of competition that we lose our cool and start acting in some pretty negative ways. Let’s remember to LIVE OUR FAITH as we move into new sports seasons. Let’s act in ways that if Jesus were sitting amongst us, He would be proud to join in our cheers.
(this was also my newsletter article for November...I know, its kind of like cheating, but I wanted to share on here too) :)