Too many times, headlines revolve around negative behavior taking place at sporting events involving coaches, players, parents or spectators. As a lifelong athlete and career educator in the field of physical education and athletics, my experiences in sports as a participant, teacher, coach, and athletic director have been many and varied. I have experienced, and witnessed, winning and losing at all levels.
Early in my high school career, I became aware that others are always looking to see how those in leadership positions react to difficult and trying circumstances. I watched my team captains and coaches to gauge a proper reaction to trying times on the fields and courts. I have carried this lesson with me throughout my career, knowing that teammates, players, parents, spectators, and other coaches will closely observe my reaction to a “blown call”, a big loss or a thrilling victory. I have learned that the reaction of the leader, in situations good or bad, clearly sets the tone for all of those around him/her.
At many preschool-12 independent schools like mine, the daily emphasis is placed on respect and treating others well as we go about our everyday routine on campus. Thankfully, the carry-over to athletics is a very natural one. Most times, our student-athletes, coaches, and spectators conduct themselves in a respectful way, regardless of the outcome of a contest. Our middle and upper school student-athletes serve as role models on campus for our younger students; our upperclassmen serve as role models for their teammates and middle school students; our coaches and parents serve as role models for all of us.
Whether you are a parent, a coach, or a student, you have an impact on teaching others how to act, and react, properly at sporting events as you model good, and appropriate, behavior. Before you yell something you might regret or act out in a negative way on the field, team bench or in the bleachers, think about who is watching and learning from you, because in the game of good sportsmanship everyone is a teacher!
Sanford School values sportsmanship. We are proud to be the winner of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association's Sportsmanship award for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Joan Samonisky is the Director of Athletics at Sanford School in Hockessin, Delaware. She is the recipient of the 2018 National Interscholastic Athletic Administrator Association (NIAAA) State Award of Merit.