Column: On becoming a good sport

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Commentary by Heather Kestian

My oldest child loves sports. The sport does not matter, he loves them all. He loves watching sports, learning about new sports, and following his favorite teams. It is all so appropriate because he was born during in an Olympic year.

He currently plays soccer, which is probably his favorite sport du jour. He loves watching Chelsea play and sports his jersey like a proud fan. One thing I am struggling to teach him, however—being a good sport.

He hates it when the other team scores a goal. He hates losing. And while they do not keep score at his age, all of the kids are mental mathematics gymnasts on the field and always seem to know the score. These moments of “less than stellar sportsmanship” are usually followed by some inappropriate comment by my child. Shortly thereafter, my palm usually hits my head.

Yet another instance of God looking at me and saying, “How do you feel about that, mom?”

Well, where do I begin?

This is one of the main reasons we want him to play sports. Learning how to be a good sport, a good team player, and lose are essential lessons that our kids need to experience and get darn close to mastering by the time they leave elementary school.

While I wish these were easier lessons to teach, you have to plow through them—one awful comment at a time. Yes, I pulled him off the field in the middle of a tantrum and yes that left the team one player short. And yes, I hope those pearls of wisdom I tried to instill went in his long term memory.

I believe that we are responsible for teaching our little people big lessons now and without these lessons learned early in life, we will have a big mess on our hands in the future. While it is uncomfortable to listen to his rants now, we have some major things to discuss. Teachable moments need to be seized. Someday, in the not too distant future, people will get to decide who is on the team and who is not on the team. It is one thing to not be chosen because of a lack of skill, it is another to not be chosen because you are not a good sport. The latter is far harder to remedy than the former.

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