Monday, June 16, 2014

Sportsmanship


Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires a sorest need.
       - Emily Dickinson

I transferred to a public school for the last three years of high school that was not known for its victories on the football field; as a matter of fact, the only time the Mighty Bulldogs ever had a chance at winning a game was when we played the only other team in our district that sucked as badly as we did. 
After graduating from a Catholic women’s college (which had no competitive sports program at all), I worked for twelve years in a two-high-school district.  Both teams barely finished the football season with dignity. 
But then –
I transferred to a 5-A school district with the winning-est sports record in the state. Name the sport; we owned its title. Back then it had only one high school and two middle schools that fed into it.  Our football squad was bigger than most of the small towns in Texas, and our two middle school teams played each other with the ferocity of young gladiators in training.  It was one of the original Super 5-A’s.  
I was in awe.  I had never been on the winning side in sports. My trifecta had been loss, disappointment, and humiliation.  My students though were used to it, so they were apathetic.  Ho-hum.  So what?
There was no way to explain to them how proud they should be.  It is easy for the victor to walk off the field with head held high, but it takes a different kind of courage to walk away after a loss. It was then that I realized how “mighty” the Mighty Bulldogs really were.
I gave them homework (hey, I WAS a teacher after all) and asked them to watch both teams after a game.  Any game. Watch how the winners react afterward. What did they say and do? Watch the losers and what they say and do. Describe how they walked off the field. We would discuss their findings in class at a later date.

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires a sorest need.

Sportsmanship is measured by how one reacts to the win or the loss. Did they play fair? Did they give it their all? Did they keep it on the field?  Did they respect and acknowledge the opponent and their efforts? Were they gracious to the other team and to each other? 

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