Respect and Sports




This page was written for the video "Respect" in the "In Search of Character" video series. We think you will find it very useful even if you aren't using the videos.


Some thoughts from Dr. Mike on Athletics and Respect before you begin:

Coaches, athletes, and their parents must always treat the players, referees, opposing players and their fans with respect, courtesy, and consideration. This means avoiding and preventing put-downs, name calling, trash-talking, insults, or other verbal or non-verbal conduct. It also means never taunting an opponent or engaging in flamboyant displays of chest-thumping, ball-slamming, or high-fiving. Coaches, athletes, and their parents must be informed that if they think an official misunderstands a rule or made a bad call, they should not humiliate the referee through their own behavior. Coaches need to maintain control over the conduct of their parents, fans, and players by preventing negative cheers, name-calling, trash talking, or the like. It should be emphasized that demeaning, ridiculing, yelling at, or embarrassing players for their mistakes or for any other reason will not be tolerated. Treat all of your players as you would like to be treated, recognizing and appreciating their diversity in gender, ethnicity, skills, and race as a part of good sportsmanship and respect. And finally, emphasize that everyone associated with the team will be listened to for their input and opinions without fear of reprisal or put down.


Questions for discussion with student athletes: (If you are using the video, ask these questions after viewing. If you are not using the video you may want to skip or reword questions 1 and 2.)

1. In the video, Dr. Mike received a FAX from a teenager who is tired of all the put downs at her school. Do you have the same problems at your school? In what ways are athletes a part of this problem?

2. How did the story of Brian Harris and his pen-pal service make you feel? What did you learn from it?

3. What does respect have to do with the quality of your character?

4. Think of yourself as a coach. What would be the advantages of having athletes on your team who always treat others with respect?

- for the team as a whole?

- for the team's reputation?

- for athlete-to-athlete relations?

- for athlete-to-coach relations?

- for a winning season?

- for possible scholarship to universities?

- for team attitude?

- for locker room morale?

5. What is the difference between respecting an opponent and liking an opponent?

6. Is it ever appropriate to let up so as not to embarrass an opponent?

7. It ever appropriate to stare down an opponent?

8. Is it ever appropriate to cheer when an opposing team member makes a mistake?

9. Is it ever appropriate to disrupt the psychological balance of an opponent?

10. If you win a game or match, in what order should you express joy or appreciation to:

A. fans

B. friends
        opposing coach

11. What do we need to do to help each other out in the area of respect:

- on the playing surface?

- off the playing surface?

- out of season?

12. How should we respond after a victory?

13. How should we behave after a loss, whether it's a blowout or a heartbreaker?

14. How should we behave after successfully completing a play?

15. How should we act when we receive awards?

16. How should we act when the opposing team receives awards?

17. How should we act during the playing of the national anthem?

18. How should we respond to unsportsmanlike behavior:

- from within our own team?

- from the opposing team?

19. How should we respond to unruly fans?

20. How should we respond to officials?

21. How should we behave in the opponents locker room?

22. What should we do to honor those of excellent sportsmanship?

23. How should we deal with the team player who uses tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs?

24. How should we deal with other athletes from our school who we know use tobacco, alcohol or other drugs?

25 How should we deal with players who end up in disciplinary trouble at school or in the community?

26. Name something you personally could relate to in this video program and tell why?

27. What do you think our team is already doing to model respect?

28. You have been hired as a consultant on good character. What three suggestions would you have on improving the level of respectful behavior on the team?

29. How do you demonstrate respect to:

- friends?

- parents?

- teachers?

- coaches?

- strangers?

- teammates?

30. Someone once said, "Sir, I will treat you like a gentleman, not because you are one, but because I am one." How might that apply to the athletic field?

31 "I believe that chest-thumping, excessive celebrations, taunting opponents or their fans is not disrespectful." Agree, or disagree? Why?

32. "It's important to display good sportsmanship both on the playing surface and off the playing surface." Agree, or disagree? Why?

33. "Congratulating the opponent on a good game - win, or lose - is an important reflection of us as a team." Agree, or disagree? Why?



1. Hold pre-season meetings for athletes, parents and coaches to discuss the importance of respecting decisions made by contest officials, and of being exemplary role models by respecting opposing teams in all ways including content of cheers and signs.

2. Arrange for orientation for incoming Freshmen regarding expected sportsmanship behaviors at sporting events.

3. Celebrate sportsmanship through student and staff participation at pep rallies, school assemblies, and game day assemblies that emphasize the six pillars of good character.

4. Form an athlete advisory panel consisting of administrators, athletic captains, coaches, parent representatives, and other significant people that monitors sportsmanlike behaviors on all sports throughout the year. Violations of unsportsmanlike behavior will be brought to the panels attention with the goal of helping the person or group learn from their experiences and to help them confront the consequences of their behavior.

5. Establish an award for "Most Respectful Athlete" that can be given at the end of the year awards banquet.

6. Write a statement of policy that articulates clear expectations of coaches, athletes, parents and fans regarding:

- Inappropriate taunting and trash talking

- Inappropriate celebrations

- Fighting (including elbows, knees, etc.)

- Use of profanity

- Demonstrations of uncontrolled frustration or anger

- Positive displays of sportsmanship such as helping up
   fallen players, pre and post game rituals of respect,
   conduct during away games, treatment of locker room
   and other facilities during away games, and
   congratulating opponents on excellent performance.

- Proper and improper interaction with officials including
   protesting a call, arguing, intentional baiting to get
   ejected or other strategic reasons, and physical contact.

7. Have a discussion with your team about what to do when an official makes a blatantly erroneous call.

© Copyright Elkind+Sweet Communications, Inc. All rights are reserved. Teachers and coaches may copy this material for classroom use. Youth group leaders and parents may copy this material for use with their kids. Otherwise this material is for private use only and may not be republished or copied without written permission of the publisher.

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