It is hard to teach our kids how to be a good sport when we are confronted every day with so many bad examples of sportsmanship. It is no longer exclusive to the NBA or the NFL, it even now permeates the most gentleman of sports, golf.
Over the weekend, Tiger Woods’ former caddie, Steve Williams, helped his new boss, golfer Adam Scott, win the Bridgestone Invitational. Williams has been an interesting subject for reporters over the years, and most recently after he was let go by Tiger. After the win over the weekend, Williams was interviewed on the 18th green by CBS (it is unusual for caddies to speak at all but Williams is known to open his mouth from time to time). He told reporters this was the best win he has ever had. Keep in mind that he caddied Tiger to 13 majors wins and 16 world titles. Tiger paid him millions of dollars in salary of his tenure. Williams proceeded to show his obvious bitterness about his dismissal last month and we are all left to wonder why he would lash out in such an immature manner against someone who has made him a multi-millionaire for carrying a golf bag. Regardless of the circumstances of his firing, it was a classless act and Williams should be ashamed.
We work very hard at raising our boys to be balanced, well-rounded individuals, who are loving and kind as well as strong and confident. As they are starting to play sports we are already confronted with a shocking amount of competitiveness. In our second year of T-ball there is already a push for the boys to be hitting pitched balls, keeping score and making outs. The kids are six. What happened to learning fundamentals, rules, sportsmanship and having fun?
Jack — who isn’t overly competitive in daily life – already gets frustrated when he doesn’t win (including board games). Competition is engrained in most of his social settings with other friends. We keep hoping things will balance out so he and other kids can learn how to handle themselves with grace and dignity.
With all the bad examples of sportsmanship, we as a family try hard to find positive role models for our boys. Luckily we have had an ideal role model right in our backyard for the last four years — Jake Locker, the former quarterback of the University of Washington Huskies and current quarterback of the Tennessee Titans (and Jim’s man crush.) Jake is a local boy who decided to stay close to home to go to college even though the program was a shell of what it once was. He started for four years, including forgoing a chance to go out in the 2010 draft and make millions more than he did entering the draft a year later. He handled himself with professionalism and grace even when he was the quarterback of a 0-12 football team.
Every year the Huskies hold a photo day where the players mingle with the fans and take photos. For Jake’s final two seasons Jim wanted to make sure we were not only able to meet Jake, but be first in line. And we were. Given his popularity, the line wrapped around the field. Jake was very sweet with the boys and happily signed the photo of him and the boys from the previous photo day. ESPN even picked Jake to follow during the 2010 season and aired the coverage during the lead up to the draft. It showed what a good person he is on and off the field. Needless to say we are now Tennessee Titan fans in our house (I am sure Jim’s jersey will be arriving any day now.)
We can only hope that our boys learn how to handle themselves like their role model Jake. I hope that we are able to instill the values of good sportsmanship in our boys, so they understand it is not about winning or losing, but about how you play the game.
How have you taught your kids sportsmanship? What tools have you used?