By Responsible Sports
Youth sports are a great opportunity for kids to build self-esteem and learn the essentials of playing a game. But it’s also an opportunity for parents and coaches to teach the importance of good sportsmanship. While parents cheer for their kids on the sidelines, it’s also imperative for them to be positive role models and strong examples of what it means to be a good sport.
Our kids look to their role models, and when adults and athletes have a win-at-all-cost mentality, it can ruin the game and bring out the worst in everyone.
In this month’s TAKE 5 series, we sat down with some of the world’s top athletes and coaches to get their take on what good sportsmanship means to them.
Kenny started his coaching career in 1996 as an assistant at his alma mater, where he played four years and earned All-Academic honors. He joined the USA Hockey staff as manager of youth hockey in 2009.
1. What’s the state of sportsmanship in Hockey today?
Sometimes I wonder about the state of sportsmanship in hockey these days. Unfortunately it isn’t just hockey as I see it in all other youth sports as well. For the most part, most parents, players, and coaches practice good sportsmanship but the few who don’t are the ones who seem to be the loudest and generate news. There is no place in youth sports for bad sportsmanship and poor behavior at a youth sporting event.
2. What specifically do you do to display good sportsmanship?
When I played, I did exactly that, I just played. I don’t ever remember talking trash or thinking poorly of my opponents. In both hockey and baseball I was always friendly to referees and umpires and realized what a tough job they had. They didn’t need me yelling at them to do it!
3. During your Hockey career, what’s one example of an opponent displaying good sportsmanship?
I have one funny example of an opponent displaying good sportsmanship from my college days. During warmups of the National Championship game my senior year at Boston University, a player whom I knew was on Maine (our opponent). As we skated past each other at the red line, he gave me a wink as if to say, hey good luck today. It was the biggest game of the year and my life and I will never forget that gesture.
4. What can coaches do to promote good sportsmanship?
Coaches can make sure that they set the example of good sportsmanship. They need to act appropriately and to realize that this is just a game and use it to teach life lessons. Coaches should meet with players and parents to stress what appropriate behavior both on and off the ice is like.
5. What is the number one thing athletes in Hockey could do to improve sportsmanship in our sport?
The number one thing that athletes can do to improve sportsmanship in hockey is to look in the mirror and realize that they aren’t perfect and have never played a perfect game. By doing so, they will realize that their teammates, coaches, opponents, and referees are all in the same boat. Everyone out there is trying their best and we all need to work together to keep our game great. There is no place in the game for poor sportsmanship and many life lessons come from realizing this. Secondly, they need to ask why do they play the game. If the answer isn’t for FUN, then something is seriously wrong!