Simple rules for sportsmanship

September 30, 2018 2:42 pm Published by

little-boy-playing-baseballLittle League sporting events are a late summer/early fall staple that provide your child an opportunity to get some exercise, make new friends, and learn what it means to work together and be part of a team. But, these events can also expose your children to aggressive behavior, foul language, and general unsportsmanlike conduct when an adult lets their feelings and their behavior get out of control.

Nearly three-fourths of children surveyed by Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine in 2009 said they they’ve seen parents shout from the stands at one of their sporting events. Another 30 percent – nearly a third of those surveyed – said they’ve seen parents and coaches get into an argument.

That’s why the nonprofit Christian ministry Upward Sports put together a list of dos and don’ts it thinks parents should follow at any sporting event they attended with their children. Here it is:

  • Don’t complain during or after the game, because it is a negative behavior and doesn’t fix anything. Mention any legitimate concerns you may have to the coach after the game.
  • Don’t boo or talk negatively about the other team’s players, because, like your children, they’re just trying to win and are being nothing more than young athletes who like to compete.
  • Do cheer for the entire team and not just your children, because it recognizes they’re working together and doesn’t put any undue pressure on your child to succeed.
  • Do treat the coaches and referees with respect, because they are the authority figures your children should look up to during the game. They should also be thanked for their work¹.

Basically, Upward Sports’ conduct rules encourage parents to ask one simple question – “am I making the sport more or less enjoyable for my child” – and then act in a way that ensures everybody has an enjoyable time regardless of what happens on the field.

Parents interested in taking things one step further might want to try a strategy like this one from the “Make Sure How” website where people sign a sportsmanlike conduct pledge at the beginning of the season, get a warning if they violate it, and are either temporarily or permanently banned from returning to the game if they violate it again².


  1. “For parents: Sportsmanship from the Stands,” Upward Sports
  2. “How to Deal with Parents with Bad Sportsmanship,” Make Sure How
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