Parents as Good Sports

With football's Super Bowl just past and college basketball's "March madness" approaching, no one could say Americans aren't a little sports crazy. But that usually harmless craziness can have a dark side - none darker than some parents and coaches imposing a "winning is everything" credo on young children.

So it's heartening to learn that in some communities parents are agreeing to temper their out-of-bounds zeal. A recent Monitor report described how soccer moms and dads in Jupiter, Fla., take a good-sportsmanship class as they sign up their kids to play. Other places require parents to sign a pledge of good behavior.

A survey story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last fall found generally good behavior from parents/fans. Better ground rules for players and adults were given much of the credit.

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Such cues from the people closest to young athletes should have a positive effect. On the other side, a suburban Boston parent recently went to court after her son was given a two-game suspension from high school hockey for fighting. There have been eight such cases over the past year of parents trying to use the courts to overrule a referee's call. That takes poor sportsmanship to a new depth.

A few bad sports may still grab headlines. But they'll only serve to remind the majority of parents that sportsmanship is just as important as winning. Now if the pro and college athletes would only do their part in setting a good example.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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