One need not be combing the sports news airwaves these days to find stories regarding poor examples of sportspersonship. This weekends' Super Bowl gave us a fine example with Santonio Holmes imitation of LeBron James' famous "chalk toss" following his touchdown catch. (Of course, using the ball as a prop in any celebration is, by rule, an automatic 15-yard penalty, but that's an issue for a different forum.) Another recent infamous example was the face-stomp suffered by Arizona's Chase Budinger during a recent basketball game.
As we're in danger of being overly negative regarding the state of sportspersonship, we can't forget the shining example set by Central Washington players carrying Western Oregon's Sara Tucholsky around the bases as she was injured rounding them after hitting a home run.
However, it does seem that sportspersonship recently has been on a steep decline. For more examples, check out Jerry Carino's column from back east.
Given the recent negative examples peppering our sports pages, what are some strategies coaches can employ to reinforce positive sportspersonship? Some examples include:
-Define sportspersonship. Give definitions to athletes so they know for sure what is and is not appropriate behavior. Some examples are respectful conduct to opponents, not arguing with referees, and not criticizing teammates.
-Reinforce appropriate behavior. Reinforce and make examples of positive sportspersonship behavior, while penalizing negative occurances.
-Model appropriate behavior. It's difficult to coach positive behavior while not demonstrating it yourself.
-Describe WHY sportspersonship behaviors are important. Simply saying thayt sportspersonship is important is not enough; giving rationale for why helps give it depth and strength. Common reasons include "Treat others the way you'd like to be treated," and "It's simply the right thing to do."