One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it. — Knute Rockne


Tight on time? Stick with the 3 Key Takeaways and The Basics. These will provide your athletes with a solid foundation for understanding sportsmanship.

Have more time? Share the TrueSport Talk and discuss how an Olympic athlete can relate to this lesson.

Extra time? Continue on through to Tips & Applications for more valuable information to share with your group.

Looking for more? Sign up below to explore the Downloads & Additional Resources, which offer Tips & Applications for more valuable information to share with your group, and additional conversation starters with our fun physical activities to support each lesson.

3 Key Takeaways

The Basics

A survey conducted by TNS Worldwide Research in 2010 showed that less people thought sportsmanship was worse now versus a generation ago, the first decline in five years. This is significant as 12 years earlier ESPN reported that 81% of those surveyed believed that sportsmanship had declined at all levels.

Still, sportsmanship should continue to be monitored and emphasized by coaches at all levels of sport. Being a good sport involves striving for success while adhering to playing fair, honestly, and with respect for the rules.

Young people often learn from watching others, which also applies to being a good sport. But according to the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports (YSI), young athletes (ages 10-18) identified five different dimensions to being a good sport:

  1. Committing fully to sport participation
  2. Respecting the rules and officials
  3. Having concern for social conventions (such as being a good loser)
  4. Respecting your opponents
  5. Avoiding having a “win-at-all-costs” mentality

Encouraging these behaviors and demonstrating them yourself will help create an entire team of good sports.

TrueSport Talk

Watch this TrueSport talk with Jimmy Moody or read the lesson aloud

Jimmy Moody, a member of the USA Fencing National Team, knows all about what it means to be a good sport. Like most high-level athletes, Jimmy is a fierce competitor who wants to win, but he still follows the rules and is gracious in both victory and defeat.

Fencing is a combat sport which means that tempers often flare during competition, so sportsmanship and treating your opponent with respect is very important. As a fencer, you can even be disqualified if you fail to salute your opponent and shake hands at the start and end of every match.

This is not always easy, especially after a loss when the opponent has just eliminated you from competition. Yet Jimmy always goes to the line, takes a deep breath, looks his opponent in the eye, and shakes his hand with gratitude. This is important because he knows that it better prepares him for life and reveals his true character. No matter what situation TrueSport athletes encounter during competition, they always treat people with respect and are good sports.

TrueSport Talk Questions

1. What was the main point you took away from the lesson?

2. Can you think of a time when you felt like Jimmy after a loss, yet you still shook your opponent’s hand with respect and gratitude?

3. How can you practice better sportsmanship at camp this week or during your next athletic season?

Downloads & Additional Resources:

Lesson Companion (PDF)
Printable version of the online lesson: Away from the computer or internet access? Print out and use this handout that’s identical to the online lesson.

Chalk Talk (PDF)
15-minute activity: Understand your athletes’ sportsmanship knowledge and experience by leading a discussion with these conversation starters.

Activity (PDF)
John Wooden’s Sportsmanship Pledge. 5-10 minute activity: Read the Sportsmanship Pledge to your athletes, then see how well they can remember it using a word bank.

Activity (PDF)
Sportsmanship Charades. 10-15 minute activity: See how well your athletes can act out and identify scenes of both good and bad sportsmanship.

Worksheet (PDF)
15 minute quiz: Test your athletes’ knowledge of good sportsmanship with this list of real-life scenarios from professional, collegiate, and Olympic sports. (answers included).

TrueSport Certificate (PDF)
Lesson Certificate: Celebrate your groups’ completion of the A Good Sport lesson with this special certificate.

Parent Handout (PDF)
Handout: Learn the importance of sportsmanship and what being a good sport means and how to incorporate those lessons into everyday life.

Athlete Handout (PDF)
Handout: Have your athletes learn the basics of what being a Good Sport means in their sport to incorporate those learnings into their everyday life.

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