Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Good Sportsmanship

A recent news story grabbed my attention. Perhaps it's because it is about my home town, perhaps because it's about sportsmanship, perhaps it's because my daughter is growing up and wants to be involved in sports. Whatever the reason, I have found things in this story that bother me.

A local news crew ran a story about my home school showing poor sportsmanship at a recent playoff game at a nearby town. The headline itself made it sound like the entire team and perhaps even some of the parents and fans showed poor sportsmanship. After reading the story and watching the video it became clear that a few team members (it never did specify how many) performed minor acts of vandalism according to the other school's superintendent. They urinated in the girls locker room on the girls things. A student also said that the players walked across the gym floor with their cleats on.

At first glance this is horrifying both as a parent and as a former student. What kind of a reputation to give our school! We don't know how to lose well, and if you can't lose well you can never win well.

I then heard from a teacher at this school that it was 3 boys. Out of a football team of close to 60. Also the gym floor was not scratched by the football team but by the school janitor.

Now this does not make the urinating on personal possessions any better. And their is some discord on how this should be handled.

One parent said the kids involved should have to work at the school until they have paid off the damage.

Another said the kids should have to clean the entire locker room with sponges and bleach water.

Another said that the entire football team and cheerleading squad should have to clean the locker room and gym, as well as pay back the cost for the entire gym floor to be redone.

My suggestion?

First and foremost no to the bleach water. Most locker rooms are completely enclosed and no one should have to smell the bleach. Also most locker rooms are painted and the bleach would eat the paint. Then I suppose they would be responsible for the cost of repainting the locker room. Sigh.

Secondly I firmly believe in let the punishment fit the crime (or misdeed, or wrongdoing or whatever term is more palatable for you). The crime in this case? Poor sportsmanship and vandalism, as well as a total disrespect for personal belongings (that didn't even belong to the players who beat the team).

Poor sportsmanship - I believe they should have to come up with a presentation about the importance of good sportsmanship, how to show good sportsmanship and what constitutes good sportsmanship vs frustration at a poor play. This should then be presented to the younger team members whether it is the JV team, freshman team or junior high team.

Vandalism - I believe they should have to do work around the school cleaning up acts of vandalism (because honestly the urine should have been cleaned up the next day when they realized it was there). It should be agreed on by both superintendents what number of hours is required to 'pay' for the act.

Disrespect - I believe the students involved should have to write letters to the school, the players, as well as the individuals whose belongings they urinated on apologizing for their poor choice.

And what if the team members that did this don't come forward? It is a team and so if the individuals don't want to own up to their poor decisions then the whole team should have to do all of these things. And someone on that team knows who did it, and the team will either report who did it, or they will use peer pressure to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

I also wish that parents wouldn't be so quick to judge other parents. One parent stated that good parents don't raise disrespectful kids. This is just not true. Peer pressure, showing off, as well as trying to fit in all play a part. My parents raised me to know right from wrong, good choices from bad. That didn't mean I always did the right choice or the good choice. But it was never my parents lack of guidance that caused me to make those choices. We need to remember as parents that while it is easy to blame the parents when a child does any wrong, we should not throw stones or cast judgements. All children make poor choices, even our own. And when that happens we take the time to teach from these poor choices. And it is not our place to judge, we will all be judged one day.

I hope that this bad situation has some good come out of it. Additional supervision, more emphasis on good sportsmanship in our schools, and maybe even a stronger school and community.

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