Be a Good Sport!

Do you believe the old adage, ‘It’s not whether you win or lose its how you play the game’?


It rings true with Millbrook High School Varsity Football coach, Sean Keenan who has 19 years of coaching experience. He says that there is more to learn from a sport than just touchdowns and slam dunks. "Being a teacher and a coach, I realize how important sports can be in educating your child,” suggest Keenan. “There are countless lessons learned from sports. You don't always win in all aspects of your life...playing a sport teaches you how to get up after you've been knocked down." 

As you encourage your children to cheer on their teammates, to always put in their best effort, and even in the event of a loss, congratulate the opposing team at the end of a game, remember, that the best way for parents to promote this positive attitude is by setting a good example. 

Make exercise fun!

Jami Hotle, little league coach from Wappingers, uses the ‘Two for One’ rule after a game with her daughters.  “After a game, if I say something that is critical, I always follow it up with at least two compliments. If I talk to my younger daughter that she needs to pay attention to the batter, while she is in the outfield, I will be sure to also let her know how proud I was when she got a good hit, and how I liked how she cheered for her teammates when they were up at the plate.” 

Best ways to set a good example for your sporting kid

Respect the coach. Most coaches are volunteers, as well as parents themselves, who usually have your child’s best interest at heart. Treat your child’s coaches with as much respect as you would one of his/her teachers in school. Criticizing their coaching ability and decisions, especially to other parents or in front of your own child, can be damaging. If you have a concern about something that is happening on the team, wait until the game is over and give the coach a call or shoot him an email the next day.  This ’24 hour’ rule will help you to have a level-headed conversation, rather than a hot-headed one.

To tweet, or not to tweet…In this world of 24/7 social interaction, it’s hard to ‘shut it down.’ Trash-talking the other team, or members of your child’s team via Facebook, Twitter or text messages, is damaging and potentially harmful to your child’s relationship with his/her teammates, coaches and friends. There’s nothing wrong with bragging about your daughter’s grand slam in the 9th inning of her tied-up softball game, or sharing the exciting news that your son scored his first touchdown, but be sure to keep it 100% positive and 0% negative. Remember, once you put it out there in cyberspace, it can never be taken back.

Sports give kids more than just competition! 

Choose your words wisely. In an informal survey conducted over a span of thirty years by two longtime coaches, college athletes were asked, “What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?” The overwhelming answer was “the ride home from the game with my parents.” It’s only natural to want to discuss a practice or game with your athlete, but be sure to once again, keep it positive. Be sure to put more emphasis on the skills and effort put forth during the game, rather than the score and outcome.

Keep calm, cool and collected. Everyone makes mistakes, but when a referee makes a “bad call” on the court, it could seem like the end of the world, especially when it involves your child. Take a deep breath and suppress the urge to threaten or yell at the official. You will only make yourself (and others around you) aggravated, and you risk being thrown out of the stands. Instead, use the situation as a teachable moment with your son or daughter. Learning that ‘things don’t always go your way’ is one of those tough life lessons, and having a reflective discussion with your child , rather than getting red in the face from screaming at the ref, is definitely a great call.

About those scholarships

If you are encouraging your children in sports with the idea they will grab a scholarship the chances are slim. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association only 2 percent of high school athletes, roughly 130,000 kids, receive a full or partial athletic scholarship. Keep this statistic, in mind when you’re cheering your child, and remember that having fun, learning the importance of persistence and teamwork are paramount.

Jennifer Colucci is a local mom and teacher. When she's not too busy chasing after her five and two year olds, she can be found blogging about her little circus at