Our View: Obsessed with winning | CraigDailyPress.com

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Our View: Obsessed with winning

Organized sports, especially for young athletes, can be rewarding. Sports can promote self-esteem and the importance of teamwork and provide hours of productive, healthy activity.

And let’s face it, everyone loves to win, and everyone loves to root for a winner.But lately in Moffat County, the love of winning has been cause for some bad behavior by players and even parents. That behavior has manifested itself in several ways, be it by red-faced, angry adults berating teenage referees or the disrespectful refusal by teams to congratulate opponents after a game.

In November, the sportsmanship of the Craig Youth Hockey Association bantam team came into question.

The Cougars, a team of middle-schoolers, were called for multiple penalties in a game against Vail in the Turkey Bowl tournament. The Vail team withdrew from a second game against Craig, because, in the words of Vail parent Marty Lich: “It became apparent injury was the real game out there.”

After the game, some parents wrote letters to the Craig Daily Press, lamenting the absence of sportsmanship. Officials who were there said the issue was blown out of proportion.

Still, it’s heartening to learn that since the game, the bantam players say they’ve made a concerted effort to avoid another Turkey Bowl experience and are working on their conduct.

Webster’s defines a sportsman as someone who abides by the rules of a contest and accepts victory or defeat graciously.

We think sportsmanship is a subject to take seriously. Some might argue that society rewards winning at all costs with bloated paychecks and fame. But most young players won’t evolve into star professional athletes with multi-million dollar paychecks, so what they take off the fields from youth sports will serve as lasting lessons in their adult lives socially and professionally.

What young athletes should take away from organized sports is that playing dirty, throwing tantrums and displaying selfishness doesn’t take anyone far in life. But learning to win and lose with dignity and respect for others is a noble pursuit.

That’s why it’s so alarming to hear reports from organizers of youth sports that parents often are the worst offenders when it comes to bad behavior.

It’s a shame, because when it comes to sportsmanship, there are few shining national examples for young athletes to emulate.

Consider the latest in a long string of unsportsmanlike and crass conduct making headlines in recent years:

In December, the NBA fined Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony $5,500 for throwing a basketball into the stands during a game against the Miami Heat. Anthony, who was called for charging, threw the ball into the crowd and hit a young girl in the head.

Todd Bertuzzi, a Vancouver forward, pleaded guilty to criminal charges after blindsiding Colorado Avalanche rookie Steve Moore in March 2004. Moore was hospitalized with three broken vertebrae in his neck and a concussion.

In November 2004, the Detroit Pistons organization announced it planned to have more police and unarmed security personnel at games after one of the worst brawls in U.S. sports history. Players and fans fought on the fields.

Although parents have little control of the bad behavior of national athletes, they can influence the behavior of their children in sports by setting examples. That would be a win for everyone.