Do you want to enjoy playing sports with other kids? Do you want them to like and respect you? Do you want them to choose you to be on their team? And do you want to enjoy playing even when you lose the game? Then it is important to know how to be a “good sport” and avoid being a “sore loser”.
Sports are an important part of life, especially for kids. While most kids love playing, few of you will grow up to be professionals. A professional sportsperson is someone who gets paid for playing because it’s their job. For most of us, the true value of sports is less glamorous but longer-lasting. Sports give us the opportunity to develop our bodies, character, and social skills while having a great time.
No one wins all the time, and no one likes and respects a sore loser. Use these ten simple rules for being a “good sport”, and you will be a winner even when you lose! The rules you will learn here are true not only for sports, but for all kinds of games, and for the “game of life” as well.
- It is more important to learn how to lose than to learn how to win. Anyone can handle winning. It feels good. The trick is to learn how to handle losing. In life, as in sports, we don’t always win. Through sports, we learn that we can lose, yet our lives and friendships continue. We can be happy in life even though we lose sometimes - or even often!
- No one likes or respects a sore loser. Do you like to play with people who go into a rage when you beat them? Of course not! Well, others don’t like to play with you if you go into a rage, either. It’s normal to be disappointed when you lose, but don’t get angry at the other side because they played better than you. Have you seen people when they get angry? Do they look smart to you? No. Guess what! When you get angry, you don’t look smart to other people, either. You look like an idiot and no one can respect you. If you want respect, show others that they can’t get you mad even by defeating you in a game.
- Sore losers lose twice. You lose once when you lose the game. When you get angry, you have lost a second time because then you look and feel like a loser to everyone who sees you. What’s better: a single loss or a double loss? So if you lose a game, cut your losses. Don’t get angry.
- When you lose, congratulate the winners. Let’s say you play a game and you win. When will you like and respect the losers more? If they get angry at you, or if they congratulate you for having played so well? Of course you would prefer that they congratulate you.
- Don’t get mad if you think your opponent cheated.
No one is perfect. You aren’t either. Sometimes people make mistakes or even purposely do things that are dishonest. If you suspect that your opponents cheated, talk to them calmly. Let them know what you think they did wrong, and avoid using the word “cheating”, because that will just make them angry.
- If people hurt you, don’t retaliate. Just let them know you are hurt.
The natural reaction when someone hurts you is to want revenge. However, this makes the situation get worse. You try to get back at them, then they want to get back at you, and you may get into a big fight. You or your opponent might get hurt, and you may get in trouble for fighting.
If your opponent hurts you, don’t respond aggressively. Just say as calmly as possible something like, “Hey, that really hurt. Please be careful.”
If they keep on hurting you, ask “Are you mad at me?” If they answer “Yes”, ask them why, and apologize or resolve the problem. If they say “No”, they will probably realize they have no good reason for hurting you and will probably stop.
- Don’t be a hog on your team.
In team sports, the players are doing two things at the same time:
They are cooperating to defeat the other team.
They are competing with each other to be the best player on the team because deep down, everyone wants to be number one.
There are certain games, like basketball, where it is easy to “hog the ball.” Especially if you are a very good player, there can be a strong temptation to do as much of the playing as you can because you can help the whole team score and you come out looking like a champion. However, your team mates may end up disliking you because you are preventing them from playing their fair share. And while it may seem like the team is winning because of you, you are preventing the other members from developing their abilities. In the long run, you may even be hurting your team’s ability to win. How will they manage if one day you can’t come to the game?
If the team has a coach who instructs you to as much of the playing as possible, then listen to the coach. Otherwise, remember that the other team members want to do their share. So don’t be a hog, and the team will like you and learn to play better.
- If your teammates blame you for making them lose, don’t defend yourself.
Probably the single most painful thing to endure is when your teammates blame you for making the team lose. It can make you wish you were never born.
The truth is that when a team loses, it is the result of the whole team’s efforts. However, it can seem that your error was what made the whole team lose. Even though it’s not fair for them to blame you, they are only human. The temptation can be very strong to blame you, especially if they feel they were playing well.
If your teammates get angry and blame you, don’t deny it or try to shift the blame to others. They will just try even harder to convince you it was your fault, and you will look immature. Accept responsibility and apologize. Say something like, “Yes, I messed up. I’m sorry I let you down. I’ll try to do better next time.” Your team will respect your for having the guts to say this, so you look like a winner. Some of your team members will feel grateful to you for allowing them to blame you instead of themselves for losing. And some will feel guilty for having blamed you. Deep down they know that the game is really a team effort, and that it is not right to blame you alone. So you win either way.
- Your opponents will not hate you if you lose.
Are you afraid that your opponents will hate you if you lose? As silly as it sounds, some people actually act as if they believe this. This fear may prevent them from playing in the first place, or they may get upset when they play and lose.
The truth is your opponents would be more upset if you win than if you lose. So don’t worry that they won’t like you if you lose. Your popularity will suffer more if you are a “sore loser” than if you lose the game.
- Don't Get Mad if No One is Choosing You for Their Team
There is always a worst player, and it might be you. Do you get angry when your friends or classmates aren’t choosing you to be on their team? It may seem to you like they avoid choosing you because you are the worst player. But that’s not the real reason. The real reason is that you are a sore loser.
There is always a worst player, and it may be you. If you get angry because you are not being chosen, that is not going to make anyone want to choose you for their team. However, if you are a good sport, admire others for playing better, show appreciation when you are chosen, and stay calm when you are not chosen, they are much more likely to want to choose you for their team.
Good luck. And remember the old saying: It’s not important whether you win or lose, but how you play the game!
It’s no different if you are the loser. Congratulate the winners and they will like and respect you. They will admire you for your courage and graciousness. You still come out looking like a winner even though you lost the game. Even if you are not a very good player, people will always be happy to play with you again if you are a good sport.
If they admit that they were wrong, fine. If they refuse, don’t make a big deal about it. Just continue with the game. Even if you lose because they cheated, it is not likely to hurt your life in the long run. Enjoying the game and being a good sport is more important than winning. Everyone watching - including your opponents - will have more respect for you when they see you can continue gracefully after being a victim of cheating. Even if you lose the game, you look like the winner.