Welcome back to the start of another exciting year of interscholastic education-based athletics. We all know that sports play an integral part in the school system. Competition among our student-athletes creates great opportunities for “teachable moments” and “lifelong lessons”. Competition is a great motivator for some of our athletes. While winning is important, let us not minimize the value of good sportsmanship in this educational experience.
Good sportsmanship requires three different groups to work together during a contest. Those three groups are the players, the coaches, and the game officials. Each group has a distinct and important task before it.
The players’ tasks are to play the game within the rules of the game. The coaches’ tasks are to coach the game within the rules of the game. And the officials’ tasks are to officiate the game by the rules of the game. When this happens, the educational experience is enhanced. However, when one of the groups attempts to do another group’s task and allows unsportsmanlike/unprofessional behavior to creep in, things get complicated.
When players try to tell coaches how to coach and/or officials how to officiate, unsportsmanlike/unprofessional behavior creeps in. When coaches try to tell officials how to officiate, unsportsmanlike/unprofessional behavior creeps in. And when officials try to tell coaches how to coach, unsportsmanlike behavior creeps in. Unsportsmanlike/unprofessional behavior has no place in education-based athletics.
This year I challenge each group to stay in its lane and allow the other groups to perform their tasks. Let’s make this a year of great sportsmanship. Remember…unsportsmanlike behavior is a CHOICE. Choose to be great sports! And have a great year of interscholastic education-based athletics.
Dr. Jerome Singleton, Commissioner