In my gym, I try to teach my students not only how to play the sport, but also how to treat teammates, opponents, coaches, and officials with respect when playing. Kids who bully or are unkind to others on the playing field aren’t likely to change their behavior when in other social situations. A student who practices good sportsmanship will learn to carry the respect and appreciation of other people into the other aspects of their life. I have a few basic rules that I set in my gym for everyone to follow that helps promote good sportsmanship in our students:
• No un-necessary body contact: One of my big safety rules is no body contact, however, because our gym activities are very physical in nature, there is always a greater chance for kids to accidently bump into another student. If someone gets hurts by another, the first rule is to tell the teacher. The second is not to direct blame unless really warranted.
• What the coach says is final: Students are taught to accept the judgment calls of the coaches and the officials without argument in the team sports. The buck stops with the coach and the students are taught to play and accept the boundaries of the game.
• Be a good loser and a good winner: Students needs to learn how to lose without getting upset and win without gloating. Everyone, at some point in life, will deal with both situations and this will help teach those life skills now.
• Be a good team member: I try to encourage our students to support their fellow team members. Cheer on both strong and not so strong members of the team. Collaboration and group dynamics are also key life skills.
• What happens in the gym, stays in the gym: I teach the students not to continue the game or the feelings that went with that game outside of the gym. There’s no need to hold bad feelings or continue to compete in the hallways or the classrooms.
I make sure to recap all the lessons that we learn each session with mini-talks at the beginning, middle and end of each class. Education at Akiva is a partnership with home and school and teaching good sportsmanship is no exception. I rely on parents to reinforce the rules of fair play at home so that all our students can enjoy participating in gym class here in school.