Building good character through good sportsmanship
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The 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo start this Friday! The Olympic Games are the ultimate event for the world’s best amateur athletes and they also represent the epitome of sportsmanship, as expressed in the Olympic Creed:
     “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
Pierre de Coubertin
In the Olympics, as well as in professional sports, there are many great athletes with exemplary character! Unfortunately, we have also seen many whose egos are more inflated and gas-filled than the Hindenburg zeppelin. Like that tragedy, they quickly rise to fame yet eventually crash and burn, taking many with them.
The seeds of such disaster often start in T-Ball, Pee Wee Football, gymnastics, and other activities with some parents placing sports performance and winning over good behavior and character. In their excitement about their child’s athletic abilities, they blindly give their kids a “get out of jail free” card. As the snowball rolls downhill toward college and professional sports, far too many young people become narcissistic and destined for a fall.
Let me be clear—I’m not pointing the finger at youth sports, the many great youth coaches, or the multitude of caring and conscientious parents. Instead, I’m suggesting that each of us must be aware that in our sports-crazed culture, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important.
Involvement in sports can give our children amazing opportunities to develop character and humility when we remember just a few things:
It’s okay to take your child out of a game if he or she is being a poor sport or acting disrespectfully. Of course, it’s smart to coordinate this with the coach ahead of time.
It’s okay not to take your child to a game if he or she is treating you like a doormat and acting arrogant at home. Again, make sure this isn’t a surprise to the coach.
Remember that it is important for your kids to have an equal balance of success and failure. Because their futures will include both success and disappointment, they must learn how to cope with disappointment without giving up.
Focus on keeping sports positive and fun.
What sort of memories do we want our kids to have? Some of my most treasured memories are ones involving Mom and Dad at my Little League games—not whether my team won the games or how well I played. It was more important that I did my best, regardless of the outcome.
For more information about how to help your child develop their character as well as their natural strengths in a responsible and healthy manner, read my book, From Bad Grades to a Great Life!
Thanks for reading! If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend. Our goal is to help as many families as possible.
Dr. Charles Fay

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