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The Olympics and sportsmanship

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

The Olympics and your child’s game

Youth sports have taken a turn for the worse, with children, parents and coaches behaving badly. Help your young athlete understand the true benefits of honest competition with these viewing tips for the Olympic Games.


Defining good sportsmanship

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Aretha Franklin’s signature song sums up the idea behind good sportsmanship. Win or lose, when teammates, opponents, coaches and officials treat each other with respect, they’re practicing good sportsmanship.

It can be as simple as shaking hands before a game or accepting a bad call with grace. Children who practice good sportsmanship are likely to carry that trait with them into other areas of their lives.

The fall of youth sports >>

The Olympic Oath: In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.

Athletes behaving badly

To learn good sportsmanship, our kids need heroes, champions and positive role models they can admire and look up to. Sadly, children have become accustomed to their favorite athletes behaving badly: taking performance-enhancing supplements, abusing drugs or alcohol, fighting with opponents and officials and more.

The Olympic Games give parents the opportunity to expose their children to positive behavior in sports. Regardless of what country he or she comes from, each unpaid athlete begins the games as an equal.

Should you look to pro athletes as examples of sportsmanship? >>

Embracing the Olympic spirit

The Olympic Flag: The International Olympic Committee selected five prominent colors that represent all of the nations to give each — no matter how big or how small — equal representation.

The Olympic Creed: The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.

The Olympic Creed and motto are intended to encourage athletes to embrace the Olympic spirit and perform their best. Participating, not winning, is what reflects the hope that we can make the world a better place.

Watching the games provides far more than a geography lesson for your family. It provides an opportunity to explain to your children how the Olympic Games are intended to make the world a better place by spreading peace and prosperity while bringing together all the continents of the world.

Free Olympics printables for kids >>

Participating from home

Watching the Olympics provides so many opportunities to observe (and practice) sportsmanship.

  • Before the games begin, do some research with your child to learn more about the games, the competing nations, the various events and the athletes.
  • Use the internet to find inspirational stories and videos of great moments in Olympic history.
  • Support Team USA but watch the events and medals ceremonies with respect for all athletes and nations.

More on sportsmanship

Be a sports role model for your kids
Are you a good sport, Mom?
Should I care that my child is bad at sports?

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