Winning the Right Way — Teaching Your Son to be a Good Sport

Posted on | Winston Baccus


“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.” — Paul “Bear” Bryant

Besides being a great way to stay physically fit, athletics are excellent for teaching boys to work together to accomplish objectives and fuel competitive spirit. Going further, athletics can build character and leadership skills that boys can take with them off the field, diamond, or court to other walks of life — not to mention friendships that can last a lifetime.

But in a sports age where many talented athletes are often rewarded with money and fame even though their behavior is insulting or self-centered, Presbyterian Day School’s Elementary Principal and fifth-grade football coach Mark Fruitt says boys need to be reminded about the merits of winning (and losing) with grace, dignity, and respect for their fellow competitors.

“Athletics is unique in that it is often the only time people — parents and students from other schools and other places – will ever see PDS,” he says. “Always showing good sportsmanship goes for the coaches, the players, and parents, too. We’re representing PDS and the values we embrace. We don’t ever talk to disrespectfully to officials, and we don’t say anything negative to our opponents; we just play the game. We tell the players that if you dishonor yourself then you’re dishonoring your school.”

Coach Fruitt knows a thing or two about sportsmanship — and what it takes to win. He has served as a teacher, a head basketball coach, a head football coach, and has attended coaching clinics at colleges and universities such as Alabama, Penn State, Nebraska, and Indiana to name a few.

“We talk about about what Nick Saban calls ‘the process’. We tell the boys that everybody starts well, but it’s how you finish that matters; if you work hard and do your best to support your teammates, the score will take care of itself,” he says. “I’m the football coach, and I can tell you we have no secret plays or gimmicks — the secret is in the work.”

“Fifth-grade football won’t define a boy as a football player — there’s plenty of time left for that.” Coach Fruitt says. “The greatest lessons will come from the hard work, recognizing the effort it takes to reach your goals, and doing the right things to be successful.”

So how can you begin to teach your child to be a good sport?

  1. Model Good Behavior
    As adults, we sometimes let our guard down when playing with our kids. We trash talk when playing a bowling game on the Xbox or Wii. It’s all in good fun, right? Unfortunately, kids don’t always get the distinction.
  2. Teach the rules and abide by them
    It’s important that kids know and understand the rules of the game — and that they should abide by them to ensure fair play. In sports, as in life, it’s tempting to take shortcuts; let your son know that a good sport always plays by the rules and doesn’t cheat.
  3. Honor Your Opponents
    Win or lose, kids should remember to show respect for opponents — it’s just a game, after all. Shaking hands and telling your opponents “good game” is the right way to finish a contest.
  4. Cheer on your teammates
    Everyone on the team is important, not just the star athletes. Teach kids that it is always important to cheer for your teammates, even if they strike out, drop a ball, or miss a kick.
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Presbyterian Day School
We know boys.

Presbyterian Day School (PDS) is a private, Christian preschool and elementary school serving 500 boys from 2-years-old through 6th grade.

With our mission of striving to glorify God by developing boys in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man, we take a holistic approach to education, nurturing the heart, soul, mind, and body of each boy.

4025 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN 38111

901-842-4600

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