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Sportsmanship Essay - Monday, February 4, 2013

Sportsmanship Essay

There are three words that in the athletic world always seem to be very important. These three words are, "Win with class”. A player or a team that can win with class is respected and highly regarded among their peers but also in their sporting community. Winning with class and losing with dignity should be the number one priority for any athlete. When a career is over it’s the character of the individuals that is remembered. Unfortunately, the records and the wins are calculated also but how that athlete conducts themselves on and off the playing field or court is the only thing that really matters.

Athletes have careers. For most of them their "careers” are over at high school graduation. Some of them go on to play in college and a few go into the professional ranks. It’s irrelevant when a career is over but what is relevant is how their character will be remembered.

Tennis is one of the few activities where a kid can learn honesty and integrity on their own without the need of adult influence along with many other things. If a child can learn such valuable characteristics by themselves they will carry those characteristics in a deeper way for many years. Tennis players are out there all alone and are forced to make decisions for themselves. Then they learn from their decisions which, are also carried into real life situations.

Through doubles matches players can learn teamwork and how to strategize with a partner, looking out for someone else and working together as a single unit. All of the things mentioned will be used when your son or daughters gets out into the work force to help them become even more successful!

Tennis is fun and is to be played for enjoyment so play and have fun, here are some tips to help the game be fun but also fair.

It’s obviously difficult to not get upset after missing an easy volley but try to laugh it off or make a joke about it and go on to the next point.

Give your opponent credit for a good shot and for making a great effort. Remember that they are a good player just like you and they deserve applause when it is warranted. You would appreciate it if they did the same for you. Tell them "Good shot” or after a match tell them that they played well.

Make fair line calls. The rules specifically state that if there is any doubt in your mind whether your opponent’s shot was in or out your call should always be in. When all is said and done you don’t want to be remembered as the player who called the lines close and didn’t give the benefit of the doubt. Make honest calls and win with your shots.

How is your temperament on the court? Are you the one that causes the players on the adjoining court to have to listen to your tirades during their points? Or are you the one that is calm and takes each point as they come and accepts the consequences quietly? Tempers are difficult to control, especially in the heat of the battle, but if you’ve ever seen another player go on a rampage you’ve seen how ridiculous they look and you don’t want to look like that.

Be realistic. Everyone wants to be playing on television someday but the percentage of tennis players in the world that end up there is obviously very low. Maybe college tennis is in their future, possibly reaching the Superchampionship division or playing in the top 6 on a high school team. Don't set your sights too high but don't set them too low either.

Parent behavour during a tournament match, and even during practice, is definitley something that most parents need to constantly be monitoring for themselves. Honestly check yourself on these things.

Remember that this is not a baseball or basketball game. Cheer respectfully. Only clap on good points and not on errors. The players call their own lines.

Again, take a hard, honest look at yourself and see if you need to alter your tennis parenting. Talk to your child, assure them that they won't get in trouble for anything that they say and ask them to be honest with about what they are feeling from you.

Remember that winning isn't everything but learning and developing traits that you can be proud of are what is most important. The years, the time and the money invested are well worth it at the time and for the future.

Special thanks to Rick Meyers for his input and help writing this.


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