To learn more, contact The Etiquette and Leadership Institute of  Indiana.    

10 Anchors of Sportsmanship

What is Sportsmanship? 

Sportsmanship 

Sportsmanship is defined by;

... fair play, respect for opponents, and polite behavior by someone who is competing in a sport or other competition.


...Sportsmanship' is an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one's competitors. 

...The conduct and attitude of participants in sports, especially when considered commendable as in fair play, courtesy, and grace in losing.

...playing fair, following the rules of the game, respecting the judgment of referees and officials, treating opponents with respect. 

What you haven't read Sportsmanship was: 

...yelling and cursing at coaches.


...taking your frustrations out on referees, umpires, officials alike.

...misrepresenting your parents, your school, your team, and yourself.

...hitting defenseless individuals. 

...not following the required rules. 

...demonstrating hateful speech on the field, in the stands, or in public.

Promoting good sportsmanship as a coach at any level is not easy. Coaches, teachers, and parents serve as role models for sportsmanlike behaviors in children. What makes teaching (and modeling) good sportsmanship particularly tricky is that youngsters are bombarded with images of older basketball players trash talking, showboating, and disrespecting opponents and officials. However, keep in mind that you're fighting the good fight: Good sportsmanship is one of the healthiest ideas you can instill in your players.

Incorporate the following 5 suggestions into your coaching philosophy. They can help make your team one of the most liked and respected teams in the league (and your players the envy of all parents in the stands):

​1. Talk about sportsmanship outside your team.

​2. Set a positive tone on game day by shaking hands with the opposing coach.

​3. Always be a model of good sportsmanship.

4. Shake hands after the game.

5. Recognize good sports during your post-game talk. 

Parents can help their kids understand that good sportsmanship includes both small gestures and heroic efforts. It starts with something as simple as shaking hands with opponents before a game and includes acknowledging good plays made by others and accepting bad calls gracefully. Displaying good sportsmanship isn't always easy: It can be tough to congratulate the opposing team after losing a close or important game. But the kids who learn how to do it will benefit in many ways. 

Coaches and Sportsmanship

Here’s something else you can think of; it is truly amazing how we as parents become engaged, excited or even downright hostile when it comes to cheering on our sons and daughters (through youth - high school athletics). So much, we embarrass them and their team by our behavior…becoming abusive toward the other team, their followers (a.k.a fans), and coaches, and let’s not forget to add the referee’s and official’s.  WOW! Aren’t we the amazing role models, don’t you think.

Taming uncivil behavior, especially by parents in the stands, is becoming an unavoidable initiative in school districts. How do we as parents adjust our behavior and sportsmanship you ask?

Parents and sportsmanship 

Nearly 60 - 75 percent of kids who play organized sports quit by age 13. Some find that their skill level hits a plateau and the game is no longer fun. Others simply discover other interests. However, too many promising young athletes (your sons and daughters) turn away from sports because their parents become insufferable. What a sobering thought.

1) Attitude
2) Character
3) Ethics
4) Fairness
5) Honesty
6) Humility
7) Integrity
8) Respect
9) Truthfulness
10) Unselfishness