One of the missions of San Marcos Academy extra-curricular activities is to serve as an extension of the classroom, with particular emphasis on teaching the values of a strong work ethic and high standards of integrity, teamwork and sportsmanship. According to Webster’s Dictionary a sportsman is “a person who can take loss or defeat without complaint, or victory without gloating, and who treats his opponents with fairness, generosity, courtesy”.
The University Interscholastic League, which governs all public schools in Texas, shares the following definition of sportsmanship:
Sportsmanship is character displayed through athletic competition. People of character live by the “Six Pillars of Character,” universal values that can be used to define a good person: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. This code applies to the parents of all student-athletes involved in interscholastic sports.
These pillars should characterize not only our student-athletes but also our parents and other sports fans. Consider some descriptors of these pillars:
Always pursue victory with honor . . . demonstrate and demand scrupulous integrity. Observe and enforce the spirit and letter of rules. Do not compromise education and character-development goals. Don’t engage in or tolerate dishonesty, cheating or dishonorable conduct.
Treat the traditions of the sport and other participants with respect. Don’t engage in or tolerate disrespectful conduct including verbal abuse of opponents and officials, profane or belligerent “trash talking,” taunting and unseemly celebrations. Win with grace and lose with dignity.
Be a positive role model and require the same of your student athletes. Teach teach life skills that enhance personal success and social responsibility.
Adhere to high standards of fair play. Never take unfair advantage; Be open-minded.
Assure that the academic, emotional, physical and moral well-being of athletes is always placed above desires and pressures to win.
Promote sportsmanship by honoring the rules and goals of the sport. Establish codes of conduct for coaches, athletes, parents and spectators. Safeguard the health of athletes and the integrity of the sport prohibiting the use of alcohol and tobacco – Demand compliance with all laws and regulations, including those relating to gambling and the use of drugs..
TAPPS: COMPETITION WITH HONOR
This UIL definition of sportsmanship fits right in with the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) motto “Competition With Honor.” Winning is important. That should be a driving force in our pursuit of excellence. More important than winning, however, is the effort to prepare. There is no true victory without honor; no shortcuts to success. We must play within the rules and the structure of the games. Adherence to ethical standards and sportsmanship are crucial to the pursuit of victory and go a long way to establish the reputation of a school.
As athletic director, I want San Marcos Academy to have the reputation as a great place to play because we treat opponents, fans, and officials with great respect and give our best efforts on the field or court. Our coaches and athletes are working diligently to put together competitive teams in every sport, and we need our spectators to help by demonstrating exemplary behavior and emphasizing the value of this behavior to our players and to other youth at the games.
SPORTSMANSHIP AND SPORTS OFFICIALS
Sports officials are charged with maintaining the order and structure of games and should be offered our respect and admiration for taking on this task. We are fortunate that in the state of Texas we still have enough officials to play games. Some other states are facing such severe shortages that they are having to cancel contests. Please respect the integrity and judgment of game officials even if you disagree with their judgment. It is not an easy job.
Officials spend many hours learning the rules of games and the mechanics of officiating contests. They do not take up officiating to hurt kids are cheat a team out of a victory. Most do it because they have a love for the game and want to assist athletes in promoting the game. Do they always get every call right ? Of course not. They are human beings with flaws like the rest of us, but your offers to “help” them from the vantage point of your seat far away from the action are not really helpful. Please refrain from making derogatory comments and encourage others seated around you to do the same. The only person who should talk to the officials is the head coach. We have a better understanding of what is going on and usually have a relationship with the officials.
When you see a coach talking to an official please resist the temptation to offer advice. Players play, coaches coach, officials call the game, and spectators cheer positively and enthusiastically for their teams. If you are really interested in being an official, you can visit the High School Officials website and learn how to become one.
THANKS FOR SUPPORTING SMA ATHLETICS
We at SMA appreciate the support our parents and fans give to our program. Our coaches appreciate your trusting the well-being and athletic endeavors of your students to our hands. We will continue to work hard to earn that trust. If we all work together, we can garner the true values of involvement in extra-curricular activities and help our student-athletes succeed in life.
SPORTSMANSHIP: SPECTATOR BEHAVIOR GUIDELINES
The UIL Parent Handbook provides some excellent guidelines on spectator behavior. I propose that all of us as spectators adopt these basic guidelines when attending any sporting event:
- Remember that you are at the contest to support and yell for your team and to enjoy the skill and competition on display . . . not to intimidate or ridicule the other team or its fans.
- Remember that school athletics are a learning experience for students and that mistakes are sometimes made.
- Praise student-athletes in their attempt to improve themselves as students, as athletes, and as people, just as you would praise a student working in the classroom.
- A ticket is a privilege to observe the contest, not a license to verbally assault others or be generally obnoxious.
- Learn the rules of the game, so that you may understand and appreciate why certain situations take place.
- Show respect for the opposing players, coaches, spectators and support groups. Respect the integrity and judgement of game officials. Understand that they are doing their best to help promote the student-athlete and admire their willingness to participate in full view of the public.
- Recognize and show appreciation for an outstanding play by either team.
- Use only cheers that support and uplift the teams involved.
- Be a positive role model at events through your own actions and by censuring those around you whose behavior is unbecoming.
- Parents and spectators should be aware that the school can (and should) remove them from the premises and can prohibit them from attending future contests due to undesirable behaviors.
- Game officials can ask that school administrators have unruly fans removed from a contest facility.
- There is no such thing as a “right” to attend interscholastic athletics. In fact, interscholastic athletics are considered a “privilege” and the spectator who avails himself of it is expected to conduct himself or herself accordingly.
- Keep in mind that you are a guest of the school, and that while winning is certainly an admirable goal, it is hollow if it comes at the expense of morals, ethics, and just plain common sense.
- The school is responsible for the behavior of spectators at home games. The school can be and will be punished for actions of patrons in violation of TAPPS standards and rules
Yours in Sports,
Les Davis, SMA Coordinator of Special Programs