For the 2015-2016 school year, Georgia High School Association activities are two-thirds complete. The spring brings competitions in the largest array of sports and activities, from traditional sports like baseball and track and field to emerging sports such as lacrosse.
This last tri-mester of the athletic year brings many challenges, one of which is sportsmanship. Maintaining good sportsmanship is a traditional value that needs a lot of attention at GHSA activities.
Competition of any kind is divisive even for short periods of time. Competitors and their supporters meet in groups that are emotionally pitted against one another. Adherence to rules and standards of the competition and of proper conduct teach life lessons that are valuable in the development of young people.
Athletic successes build a positive school climate, but winning the right way – with appropriate displays of conduct and effort – can build an even stronger atmosphere in the school, the students and the community.
Sportsmanship programs should emphasize the athlete, but should not overlook the contributions of the schools’ supporters – young or old – or its coaches. Attitudes become counter-productive when participants and fans resort to behaviors seen at other levels of competitions that undermine the values of school-based athletics.
A foundation of respect for game officials, for coaches, for the opposing team and for games themselves is critical to the uniqueness of school-based activities. Our sportsmanship program must address the behaviors of all these components to build school programs that positively influence our athletes and our communities.
Gary Phillips, Executive Director