The Expectation of Good Sportsmanship

by Scott Queen • Athletic Director

whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.

I John 2:6  

We start most every athletic event on our campus by reading this statement over the PA:

“Welcome to Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy where sportsmanship is an expectation. So let the Coaches coach, let the players play, let the Officials officiate and may the actions of everyone be honoring to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The GHSA and its member schools have made a commitment to promote good sportsmanship by student/athletes, coaches, and spectators at all GHSA sanctioned events. Profanity, degrading remarks, and intimidating actions directed at officials or competitors will not be tolerated, and are grounds for removal from the event site. Spectators are not allowed to enter the competition area during warm-ups or while the contest is being conducted. Thank you for your cooperation in the promotion of good sportsmanship at (today’s/tonight’s) event.”

It’s sad that we constantly must remind coaches but more importantly fans of showing good sportsmanship. Bad behavior from adults at athletic events has gotten much worse and has become a widespread issue.

I just read where 2,000 High School Athletic Directors were asked in a recent national survey what they like least about their job, about 62% said it was “dealing with aggressive parents and adult fans.”

The referees and umpires officiating these contests strongly agree. In fact, around 80% of officials quit after the first two years on the job, and behavior from parents and adult fans are stated as the reason why.

As a result, there are less officials wanting to officiate; and because of the shortage, officials are quickly thrown into the arena, court or field without proper training or experience.

Here are two things that I believe that can assist all of us with great sportsmanship:

Our Speech:    

1. Questionable language or anything that could be misconstrued as negative or insulting should be avoided. Be positive and encouraging

2. Never criticize the officials or coaches. These people represent the authority figure, the “boss”, the parent, and the teacher”. If you are “bad mouthing” your children’s coaches or officials, you cannot expect him or her to play for or respect these people. Obedience to authority is not predicated on whether you agree with it. All authority is God-given.

3. Never be involved in negative cheering. Booing the officials or opponents sets a bad example for your children and is counter-productive to everything we say we believe.

4. Never criticize your children’s teammates. This does not teach your student team attitude and will allow them to make excuses for their own performance. Never offer excuses for your children if they are not playing. Encourage them to do their best and to keep striving for their worthwhile goals.

5. Always confront your coaches out of sight and earshot of students and other parents. Speak with the coach privately. Call to set an appointment. Pray about what you will say and what is motivating your discussion.

6. Smile, meet and greet. Often you may be the first impression someone has of ELCA and of our Lord and Savior. Ask yourself this question “Is my speech setting up an opportunity to share Jesus Christ or a need to apologize?”    

Colossians 4:6   Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt…

Our Behavior:

1. Maintain class and character. You are setting the example for your students. Realize that your every action reflects upon you, your family, ELCA, and ultimately our Lord. People will remember your actions long after they have forgotten your words.

2. Be an example.  Set the standard high for behavior and appearance and do not be afraid to speak to those who are indifferent to our ultimate purpose.

3. Working with the officials …not working the officials. Badgering an official comes with too high a price (and it doesn’t work, in fact it hurts us worse) – our testimony and our ability to influence those others for Jesus Christ.

4. Be Modest in victory and gracious in defeat. Coaches, students, parents and spectators will need to be strong in this area. Shake hands with our visitors before and after a game.

5. Recognize and respect the success of your opponent. Compliment the good play of students from the other school. Congratulate their coaches on a well-coached game.

6. Teach your children that they have a special purpose from God. It is their responsibility to accept God’s purpose for them. Do not compare or contrast them to others. This limits their ability to fulfill their own unique potential and purpose.

7. Have fun, touch lives and be yourself. You have the opportunity to be a positive influence, like no one else may be able to, in the lives your children and their peers. Enjoy this time in their lives and help them to enjoy it as well. Games, plays and officials will be forgotten, but your behavior and attitude will stay with your child forever.

I John 2:6   whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Scott Queen has been at ELCA since 1997 and has been teaching and coaching in Christian Education for over 25 years. He serves as the Athletic Director, Head Track & Field Coach, and an Assistant Football Coach. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management from Liberty University, where he played football and ran track. Prior to coming to ELCA, he taught and coached for three years at North Florida Christian School in Tallahassee, FL and was an assistant track coach for one year at Liberty University. He has been married to Anna since 1998 and they are the proud parents of Sean and Asia.