A great part of being a dad is teaching your kids to play sports, and other games (my daughter is a beast at Texas Hold Em). There is more to it than just teaching them how to play, however. It is also an opportunity to teach your children one of the traditional values that often gets overlooked in sports these days: good sportsmanship. Being a great player kind of loses its importance if no one wants to play with you, so let’s go over a few tips on how to be a good sport, regardless of what game is being played.Follow the Rules

An important part of being a good sport is knowing the rules, and always playing by them. Players bear the responsibility of learning and knowing the rules they are governed by on the playing field, and not breaking the rules. The more a player does this, the more they will be able to enjoy the sport.

Don’t argue on the field

To be a good sport, you have to keep your temper. Arguing on the field, whether versus a referee, a coach, a teammate, or an opponent, is bad news. Sure, players will need to vent frustration occasionally during a heated competition, but someone who practices good sportsmanship knows how to keep their temper under control, which allows them to stay focused on doing their part in the game.

Be a Team Player

A player in any team sport must remember that his or her actions are a reflection on the entire team, and holds him or herself up to high standards during a competition. Additionally, a team player encourages teammates to practice good sportsmanship, since their actions reflect upon the team as well.

Don’t be a Ball Hog

Obviously, some players are better than others are. In the drive to win at all costs, many less talented players will not get playtime. A good sport will look for opportunities to make sure that every player gets a chance to enjoy the sport they practice hard to play.

Play Fair

A victory that comes as a result of cheating is not really a victory. If you could not beat your opponent(s) fair and square, then you will know your victory is hollow when you cheat to win. A good sport does not want that on his conscience, and so will always play the game fairly.

Listen to the Coach

A major part of good sportsmanship is following the directions of the coach. Each player’s actions during play (and even practice) have an effect on the entire team. The coach is there to give directions and call the plays, and the players must follow those directions. In the event that a player disagrees with his coach, he should address that issue privately and respectfully with the coach.

Treat the Other Team with Respect

Regardless of which team is better, a good sport does not degrade or put down the opposing team. If a good sport loses, he knows to accept the defeat gracefully, try to learn from his mistakes, not make excuses, and move forward with the intention of doing better in the future. If a good sport emerges victorious, it is all right to enjoy the victory, so long as he does so without gloating or belittling the opponent.

Encourage Your Teammates

A good sport knows that without his team, he would not be able to play at all. No matter how talented an athlete might be, he or she cannot take on an entire opposing team alone; therefore, teammates a necessary. A good sport will offer praise to a teammate who performs well, and give encouragement to teammates when they don’t do so well. Any internal conflict within a team will be observed by the opponents, who can then exploit the perceived weakness. Therefore, it is best to be supportive and encouraging to your teammates.

Accept Calls by the Refs

No matter how bad a call an official makes, never get into an argument over it. A good sport knows that mistakes happen, and arguing with a ref over a perceived bad call is a waste of time and energy, and can result in further penalties. Also, a good sport keeps it in mind that every call in a game matters, not just the one being disputed; even if it is possible to win an argument over a referee’s call now, that ref might get resentful and watch the player closer afterwards. It is better to accept calls made by officials, whether you agree with them or not, and move on. A good sport keeps a focus on performing at his or her best, rather than spending energy trying to change a ref’s mind.

End the Game Smoothly

When the final whistle is blown, a good sport knows that pouting about the results, smack-talking opponents, or other bad sportsmanlike behavior just don’t belong on the field. Of course they have emotions regarding the outcome, be it the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat, but expressing those emotions inappropriately does not benefit anyone. By congratulating opponents on their victory or thanking them for their effort despite a defeat, a good sport allows the game to end smoothly and on the best note possible for everyone involved.

There is never a shortage of players, but good sports are all too uncommon these days. Even the most talented athlete who displays a bad attitude will not be popular, in the sport in general or even within their own team. Teach your kids to be good sports and they will be assets to their team, who others will look forward to sharing the field with.