Humility is defined “as having a clear perspective, and therefore respect, for one’s place in context; the condition of being humble.” In sports, humility is exemplified when players give credit to teammates, and when opponents are respected. Unfortunately, humility isn’t always shown in sports, and in some instances athletes do all that they can to steal the spotlight — or worse yet, mock and make fun of their opponents.
Parents and coaches can do their part to help kids understand the importance of genuine humility, and treating all competitors (teammates and opponents) with respect and appreciation. When we witness kids taunting, showing up, making fun, and criticizing others, we should view those instances as “teachable moments” that kids can learn from to improve for the future.
Kids see it on TV
While it is unfortunate that some adult athletes engage in poor sportsmanship (and that these scenes are sometimes caught on television, including SportsCenter highlights), we can help kids in those instances by talking about what they just saw and the impact of being a poor sport. Conversely, kids can also learn firsthand how good it feels to give credit to teammates (and opponents), even in times where it is clear that they were the star of the game.
Kids learn humility — as well as poor sportsmanship — by watching us, the adults running and helping out with youth sports. When we win with grace and lose with dignity we show kids firsthand that the ways in which we compete supersede the final scores and outcomes of the games.
Kids should be discouraged from demonstrative, self-centered attention designed to show up opponents while bringing more attention to themselves. When young athletes engage in these antics, they not only anger the other team, but also isolate themselves from teammates who value positive sportsmanship and humility. Remember, kids often mimic what we as adults do, so make sure to play your part this summer by keeping humility a top priority.