"Talk of the Town" Good Sportsmanship a Lifelong Lesson #ClarendonHillsRocks

  • Mike McCurry
  • 05/29/14

Good Sportsmanship a Lifelong Lesson – From Mike Mccurry’s “Talk of the Town” Column in the Clarendon Courier

They hadn’t seemed to notice the long pass completed down the field where the play continued. They hadn’t seemed to notice the long pass completed down the field where the play continued. Even when the play was over, they continued to pound each other; exciting the crowd further. This was one of many fights that broke out during that first inaugural Arena Football season; this one happened to be on the first very first play of the season.
 
As a dad, I try to teach my children to have good sportsmanship because it builds good character. In a momentary loss of reason, my 7 year old son cranked back his arm and unleashed a punch smack dab in the middle of one of his best buddy’s back, dropping him to his knees in pain. One moment my assistant coach (who’s son got hit) and I were teaching about passing the soccer ball, and the next moment, a push happened, followed by “the punch” bringing practice to an awkward end. After the tears dried and the dads’ nerves settled, we realized this was one of many life’s teachable moment.
 
Amy gets these teachable opportunities quite a bit, but this one was a perfect match for dad! My son headed to his room in the quiet of our home for a good 30 minutes before I came to find him almost asleep on his bed. I asked him what happened and he described it by spelling it out, “I H I T him in the back, dad”. He didn’t want to say the actual word. “But he pushed me first.” From this experience, there are many good lessons he could learn. The one first that came to mind was to “turn the other cheek” told by Jesus; but the Apostle Peter hadn’t seemed to remember it in the moment when he cut off the high priest’s ear. I decided that it would be appropriate for him to recognize the feeling of loosing control, which he had just experienced in the heat of the battle. We talked about this and how he could reflect on his feelings so that it wouldn’t happen again. We also came up with an analogy for the act. “Breaking a branch off of a healthy tree is wrong, but taking an axe and cutting it down is even worse.” He was even able to use this analogy when writing an apology note to his friend. That note was precious and I realize that life is full of teachable moments which we cannot let pass us by. I’m happy to be a part of them.
 
My oldest daughter also plays soccer and competes in gymnastics for the Special Olympics. On the soccer field she loves to get an opportunity to make contact with the ball. After years of coaching and watching her develop her skills, confidence and friendships, we all had the thrill of watching her do what all kids desire to do on the soccer field; score. She had a break away that allowed her the opportunity. Together the parents and players from each side were cheering for her. When she punched it in the goal, with such reckless abandon, she threw her arms up and in the air and shouted “I did it!”. It was a teachable moment for everyone.
 
Many of the sports organizations do not emphasize winning because they want children to have a good experience. I like this for the younger kids but when they get older, winning and losing are teachable moments as well. My oldest son swims and often is competing against his own times. Although swimming is a very individualized sport, swimmers are constantly racing their teammates with every stroke during their daily practices. This spirited competition turns into cutting each other down for their own emotional gain; missing the opportunity to encourage and develop camaraderie. A wise coach will use these teachable moments to foster good sportsmanship while still providing healthy competition
 
On the field, I do hear the kids getting into verbal confrontations from time to time. Usually it is because someone scores a point. Children are learning the art of winning and losing. The child who scores rubs it in a little too much and the child who loses fails to take responsibility for their part. This is natural in the progression of competition. I think we all have a lot to learn about humility and responsibly; especially me.
 
The crowd did keep getting louder, I could hear the decibels raising like they were cheering for me, little did I know we completed that pass.
 
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around Clarendon Hills. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting Clarendon Hills residents and even a little about Clarendon Hills history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.
 
 

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