Sportsmanship isn’t only for players; it should be exemplified by coaches and parents on and off the field. I am lucky to be involved in the lacrosse community and I love it very much. Unfortunately, I am seeing more and more how unsportsmanlike and egocentric some people are. Too often people have their own agenda, whether for money or recognition, they lose sight of what is important: providing the best experience and opportunity for the kids.
It was sickening to hear about the conduct of some coaches at the Skitown Shootout this year. I was out of town but I received messages about coaches starting fights and playing ineligible players, even after being warned. Are you kidding me! Multiple coaches have been banned from the tournament based on their actions this year.
The incident I heard the most about was a coach playing U-15 players against a U-13 team. In this game one of the ineligible older players body checked a player on the other team and gave him a concussion. I don’t know the reasons for playing the older players but it was clearly poor sportsmanship and set the wrong example for the kids on both sides of the sideline. The US Lacrosse Association and the Utah Chapter (Utah Lacrosse Association) promote good sportsmanship. In fact on the US Lacrosse website this paragraph is posted:
US Lacrosse Promotes Good Sportsmanship
US Lacrosse, the national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse, is always pleased to have you share in the excitement of the game by attending an event. Through its current sportsmanship campaign, US Lacrosse has made a commitment to encourage fair play and good sportsmanship by the coaches, players, umpires, and fans. You can do your part to honor the game by respecting all participants at the event and recognizing the value of fair play, both by the letter and the spirit of the rules of the game. Profanity, degrading remarks, and intimidating actions directed at officials or competitors will not be tolerated, and are grounds for removal from the event site. Thank you for honoring these principles and for promoting good sportsmanship at all US Lacrosse events.
Keep in mind that sportsmanship goes beyond the field. We as coaches, parents, officials, volunteers, administrators, and board members are all responsible for being good role models for the kids. Breaking rules or league policies because you don’t agree with them is not something we should be teaching the up and coming players. What we should be teaching, especially by example, are simple life rules like being on time, communicating instead of talking behind someone’s back, using email and social media responsibly, being responsible for their schedule and working hard to accomplish goals. Those are just a few life rules I feel are being lost on our youth.
I’m in no way saying I know what is best for each individual but by following the rules and policies set forth through hours of deliberation and tweaking throughout the years, the collective community will be better for it. Follow the double goal coaching style expressed in the Positive Coaching Alliance meeting before the season (which every high school head coach is required and all coaches are suggested to attend). I would strongly encourage leagues to require Positive Coaching Alliance training for all Youth and High School coaches including assistants.
Competitiveness and physical play are two aspects which make lacrosse the amazing game it is, let’s not forget to play by the rules and be able to shake hands after the game. Nobody cares how many games you have won if you are not teaching your kids how to be humble after wins and win by playing the game the right way.