How to Be a Winner at Sports…Even When You Lose
Nobody likes to lose. It's painful and sometimes heartbreaking, but it can be one of the best experiences to making you a better human being. Compassion isn't cultivated from winning everything. Strong character isn't the result of a life void of disappointments. On the contrary, character is born from life's tough moments…from the times when things don't turn out the way we had hoped or planned. And let's face it, nobody plans on loss. How we handle ourselves during those times says a great deal about what kind of person we are. Proper sportsmanship teaches good behavior and builds strong character. Here's how to be a winner at sports…even when you lose.
1. Win with Dignity and Lose with Grace
Winning is easy. It's fun. It can also breed arrogance and bad behavior like taunting and mocking the losing team. This is not a very appealing trait in a person. Remember to win with dignity—to shake the opposing players' hands after the game and say, "Good game." To be humble in their success. Follow the example of players and coaches who exemplify winning with dignity, like former NFL Coach, Tony Dungy. When you experience loss, hold your head high. Be as humble in your defeats AND in your victories.
2. Respect the Game
Unless you are the Harlem Globetrotters, showboating or hot-dogging don't have any place in a game. What it says is, "This game's too easy for me! I've got time to goof off because I'm dominating." It's ok to celebrate and enjoy the game, but every player needs to be considerate of the other players in the game. If you can't play whole-heartedly, then maybe you should consider another sport that is more challenging. Respect for the game demands playing with class, heart and style.
3. Follow the Rules
Remember how John McEnroe used to go ballistic when an ump ruled against him? He would throw tennis rackets, scream at the line judge, and just generally make everyone miserable around him. His considerable skill on the tennis court was overshadowed by his side-line shenanigans. Rules are in place to make the game fair and to keep order. There will be times in the course of a game that an official may make a call that you feel was wrong or unfair. You might even break a rule and be held accountable by the ref. When that happens, be a good sport and acknowledge that not every call will go your way.
4. Encourage Strong Effort
Give it your best every time you're on the field; whether you're in the middle of a playoff game or a pre-season scrimmage. People who play all out are winners no matter what the scoreboard says. When you do everything you can every time you play, you can walk away with a sense of accomplishment, even in the face of defeat.
5. It's Just a Game
Above all else, remember that sport—in all its forms—is still a game. By nature, sports are an activity that people participate in for fun. Don't lose sight of that. Remember the bigger picture...the perspective that it's a blessing to be out playing games and enjoying life. Appreciate it the ability and the freedom that you have to just play. It's hard to be anything but a great sport when you are humbled and thankful for just the opportunity to enjoy yourself in a game.
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