Fair Play in Girls’ Sports : Too Much Unnecessary Roughness

We need to have ZERO tolerance for rough play or unfair play in sports. Fair play is a rising challenge in the face of today’s pressures to win and be the best. Traditional values of youth sports programs include emphasizing the importance of physical fitness and sportsmanship conduct. The goal is to help children develop discipline, commitment, teamwork and leadership skills and HAVE FUN. Playing a sport should provide a child with a positive experience. The emphasis should be on FAIR PLAY not competitive success. A priority should be placed on safety, health and the overall welfare of a child. This should come before winning or before the reputation of a school, organization, coach or parent.

There needs to be CLEAR GUIDELINES for ensuring safety (both physical and emotional) as well as stiff penalties for violating these guidelines. These guidelines need to be spelled out clearly to all referees, coaches, players and parents. They include acting respectfully to others and being held accountable for their words and actions. I personally have witnessed many an unkind and unfair action (aggressive playing gone too far) by a player on a field or court. I am further astonished to witness that the adults involved either do not see the action, choose not to see the action or see the action but do not know how to handle it so they ignore it. I have also witnessed coaches and parents who degrade, criticize, belittle and yell at the players (negative motivation). What happened to modeling good behavior?

Girl bullying is a huge problem in today’s world. It is alive and thriving in the sports world. It’s best to just acknowledge it and deal with it. This means raising awareness and educating players and adults on how to recognize “unfair play” and how to deal with it effectively.

Team sports have the power to boost self-esteem. This leads to the discussion of positive and negative motivation. Negative motivation from a parent or coach involves intimidation, criticism and/or the use of guilt. Positive motivation involves communicating positively, focusing on strengths and providing incentives for improvement.

Let’s change the culture of youth sports to one of FUN, LEARNING, and GROWING. Is the goal of youth sports to develop professional athletes? No, it’s not!

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