November 14, 2017 - Sacramento, CA - How do you stop poor sportsmanship? You stand up and demand it, and let it be known that there are consequences when coaches and players don't meet the standard. The principal of Sacramento's Del Oro High School held a coach accountable by suspending him from a playoff game. The coach didn't get ejected, cause a fight or do anything that would make this website's "bad acts" page. But, he constantly complained, and his complaining riled up the crowd, which also complained. See, 'No Excuses': Del Oro Suspends Football Coach During Run For Another Title, reported by Joe Davidson, Sacramento Bee.
November 2017 - Illinois - After AED Saves Son's Life, Family Raises Money for More Units, reported by Matt Troha, NFHS High School Today.
Andover, MA - February 18, 2015 - Andover High's hockey team lends support to rival whose mother was murdered. See Hockey Hearts Aplenty; Golden Warriors Show Support For Opposing Player In Need by Judy Wakefield, Andover Townsman, February 18, 2015.
Merrimack, NH - January 23, 2015 - With a cheer of "Sorry, Johnson" the Merrimack High School Students both apologized to their principal and affirmed their commitment to cease using profane and derogatory cheers. The students turned what could have been a bad moment into a good one. A mere two weeks ago, Merrimack principal Ken Johnson barred the same student supporters from a game until they could cheer without resorting to profanity and negativity. As Johnson phrased it, Merrimack fans "Don't Do Stupid!" Turns out the students took it to heart. See Student Fans Improve Behavior by George Scione, Merrimack Journal, January 23, 2015.
Thermal, CA - August 29, 2014 - The Redskins Nickname is Controversial, But It's Not The Worst. A California high school just retired the most offensive mascot in the country - a hook-nosed stereotype of an Arab. The school did not change its nickname, though. They're still proud to be the Coachella Valley High School Arabs. Kudos for dumping the mascot, but more is needed. Dump the name. See California School Retires Divisive Arab Mascot, San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 2014; and Coachevella High School Retires "Arab" Mascot by Brett Kelman, Palm Springs Desert Sun, August 29, 2014. Oddly, the Coachella Valley area does not have a significant Arab population as far as I can tell. The reports indicate that the school named itself the Arabs because of the prevalence of "date" farming, thereby linking itself to the fruit which is popular in the Arab world. This story isn't perfect: any school nicknamed the Arabs is going to have an Arab mascot. Coachella Valley has simply created a more palatable "Arab" mascot. Oh well, the path of progress does move slowly. Now, Arabs and Indians may be offended, but it may be worse to be gay. There's a football keep away game that could easily be called keep away or kill the man with the ball, but, no, that's not descriptive enough. The game has been passed down for generations as "Smear the Queer." Here's an article on the game, written by someone who thinks it's a relic of a distant path. It's not. Even today kids are playing "Smear the Queer." See Did You Play Smear The Queer As A Kid? by Michael Helfand, Chicago's Real Law Blog, April 17, 2013. I contend that Smear The Queer is worse because most kids will realize that the Redskins, the hook-nosed Arab mascot, and the other stupid mascots are symbols. Designating the person to be tackled in a game of keep away as "the queer" is divorced from a cartoon image, and simply conveys the notion that it's not to cool to be the "queer." The kids playing the game may be too young to even know what the "queer" is, but after a childhood of negative connotations to being the queer, the fag and other non-masculine connotations, they'll eventually figure out that queer can't be too good once they meet an actual gay person. I don't think most people have a connotation of an Indian at all - or if they do, it's probably not based on the Indian mascots as those mascots represent a distant past and are divorced from present day reality. It would be, to some extent, like naming a team the Birmingham Black Slaves (I guess the mascot could be a slave saying, "yes, massa"). We would be offended. But, most people wouldn't think that present day blacks walk around saying "yes, massa." Of course, the notion of the Birmingham Black Slaves probably tells you why we should dump the Redskins and other Indian mascots. Society has reached a point where it recognizes that perpetuating the negative myths of a bygone era may impact people from the same racial group in the present. So, if we're going to use a name to symbolize the fighting spirit of a racial or national group, we should pick groups that are so divorced from present day reality that everybody can clearly see that there's no link to the present. For example, I contend that there's probably nothing offensive about the Racine Roman Legion. I don't think Italians would link them to present day reality. Or you could have the San Jose Spartans (oh, that's right, we do have that). I don't think anybody in Greece would object unless we picked a really stupid, comic Greek stereotype for a mascot.
June 2, 2014 - Click here for USA Softball's 4 steps on starting the sportsmanship conversation.
Michigan – March, 2014 – The Michigan High School Athletic Association’s creative Battle of The Fans program has schools competing to be the most sportsmanlike. See ‘Battle of The Fans’ Changing Culture In Michigan, reported by Geoff Kimberly, NFHS High School Today, March, 2014 page 20.
Minnesota - March 8, 2014 - Wrestler Inspires With Sportsmanship After Losing in State Title Match, The Post Game, March 9, 2014. After losing the championship wrestling match, Malik Stewart embraced his opponent's cancer stricken father. The ugly acts are often reported, but our sporting world does offer countless positive acts, too. This was but one of those acts, and it was an act of the highest order.
Urbana, Ohio - June 2, 2012 - Meghan Vogel of Ohio's West Liberty-Salem High School showed the ultimate in sportsmanship at the 2012 Ohio State Track Championships. Vogel saw Arden McMath, one of her opponents, struggling to finish and then collapsing on the track. Vogel then stopped her own race to pick McMath up and carry her to the finish in an act of pure unselfishness. See High School Runner Carries Opponent Across Finish Line, ABC News, June 5, 2012, and Prep Runner Carries Foe To Finish Line reported by Doug Binder, ESPN, June 5, 2012.
Santa Cruz, CA - February 13, 2012 - Sportsmanship: California’s Scotts Valley High School gets it. Click here to see for yourself. .
And, if you want some contrast, click on the yahoo sports blog’s article, What Makes A Nightmare Sports Parent - and What Makes A Great One by Steve Henson, The Postgame: Yahoo Sports Blog, February 15, 2012.
The Scotts Valley students and Henson both recognize one of the core truths of good sportsmanship. People involved in a sports contest must know their role, and stay in it. Coaches coach. They don’t officiate or tell officials how to officiate. Spectators and parents cheer. That’s their role. Their role is not to tell the coach what to do, or try to coach the players or intimidate the officials. We all have a role and problems often start when people at a youth sports contest stray from their role. For more on knowing your role, and keeping it sportsmanlike see one of my old articles. Sportsmanship’s Golden Rule: Know Your Role and Stay Within It.
Acton, CA - November 6, 2011 - Think you've overcome tough hurdles? Think again. Taylor Howell plays high school football, and he's blind. Now that's an obstacle. How does he do it? Click here for Blindness Not Enough To Sideline California Teen reported by Gloria Hillard, NPR, November 6, 2011.
2011 - What's High School Sports All About? Click here for a video on the Tikiqag School in Alaska. A school with only 60 students that is so isolated that it has to fly to its games.
Andover, MN - September 16, 2011 - Andover Cross Country Runner Carries Wounded Competitor To Help, KARE - TV, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, September 23, 2011. There are times when winning isn't the most important thing. Cross Country runner Josh Ripley of Andover High realized this, and carried an injured competitor a half mile back to the starting line after his opponent suffered a cut that ultimately required 20 stitches.
Louisville, Ohio - August 29, 2011 - AD Defends Excessive Celebration Penalty Called Against His School - Even Though His School Had A Most Sympathetic Reason For Their Celebration. Louisville High School's Alex Schooley was called for an excessive celebration penalty after scoring a fourth quarter touchdown with 1:15 remaining in the game. The penalty helped Louisville's opponent gain good field position, and ultimately helped them get into position for a game winning kick. Schooley was penalized for pointing at the sky after his score, but he had good cause. His friend had died and Schooley was one of the pallbearers. In short, this was an understandable gesture - but it was only understandable if you knew Schooley and knew what had occurred. If you didn't, then the penalty was simply an act of rules enforcement. And that's the whole point. We have excessive celebration rules to deter a team sport from being marred by acts of self-aggrandizement. Officials are supposed to enforce those rules, and they're not supposed to waive the rules for subjective factors. Of course, it is most unlikely that the officials knew why Schooley was celebrating. However, what if they did? Do we want officials to arbitrarily waive rules based on their sympathy with one player? This may be a sympathetic starting point, but where would it stop. Anyway, you know what happened after the game ... or at least you think you know. Yes, the hometown fans ripped the mean old official, and Hank Zaborniak, the assistant commissioner for the state high school sports association, explained the rationale behind the rule. See After Losing Friend, Player Penalized For Show of Emotion, reported by Dave Nethers, Fox Channel 8, Louisville, August 29, 2011. However, the story doesn't end with the fans ripping the official and the state governing body looking like bureaucrats. Oh, no. One man rose above it all. Louisville Athletic Director Rich Venuto went on television the day after the game, and pointed out that the official did exactly what he was supposed to do, and stated that he hoped his fans would accept the call and move on. See AD Responds To Call That Penalized Show of Emotion, reported by Dave Nethers, Fox Channel 8, Louisville, August 30, 2011; and An Unpopular Stance by R. J. Anderson, Athletic Management Blog, September 5, 2011. The AD is correct here. There are lessons to be learned in sports. One lesson, which is particularly painful, is that we must display the attributes that we value even in the most adverse moments. This was the most adverse moment, and we should sympathize with the student who was penalized. However, we must also do what the AD did, and tell that child and his supporters that even though we sympathize, we are still held to our standard.
Cleveland, OH - July 15, 2011 - Retired Baseball Coach Teaches Sportsmanship/Life Lessons. See Retired Coach Gives Parents Advice On How To Watch Kids Sports Events by Reece Rutland, Cleveland Daily Banner, July 15, 2011.
Compton, CA - July 5, 2011 - Student Splits 40k In Winnings Among Runners-Up, rivals.com, July 5, 2011. Allan Guei, a Compton High basketball player, won a $40,000 free throw shooting contest. He could have kept the money without violating NCAA rules. Guei asked to have the winnings split amongst the seven contest runner-ups because he had a college scholarship and wanted to give his classmates a chance to get a down payment on their college tuition. This is a very good act. Just ask all the people who got to share in the kindness of a "good winner." What a guy.
San Mateo, CA - May 25, 2011 - The Good Side of Track: The Good Teammate! San Mateo Athlete Gives Up Spot In Championship So Teammate Can Compete. See Selfless Act Allows Two Dons Into CCS by Julio Lara, San Mateo Daily Journal, May 25, 2011.
Oakland, CA - May 18, 2011 - It's pretty well documented that inner-city kids aren't playing a lot of baseball. The economic barriers to access the sport are sufficiently high to make baseball tough to organize in the inner city. We've seen a lot of programs trying to help inner city kids gain access to baseball. Probably the most famous of these programs is the Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities program run by Major League Baseball. Well, add Jeff Humphrey to these programs. No, not the Jeff Humphrey program - just Jeff Humphrey. Jeff's a one-man band, going around getting equipment donations that sustain a number of youth programs in Oakland and other East Bay cities. To see how Jeff does it, read Baseball's Robin Hood by Paul Gackle, East Bay Express, May 18, 2011.
April 1, 2011 - Alyvia Clark from Ohio and Nathaneal Franks from Oregon were recently named the winners of the 2010 National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Scholarship/Essay program. Click here for details. Click here for Alyvia's essay, and click here for Nathaneal's essay.
California - March 15, 2011 - This posting contains a little bit of good, and a little bit of bad. Think Nobody’s Watching? The Sacramento Bee is, and they’re seeing the best and worst of sportsmanship in California’s Basketball Playoffs. See Hometown Report: Good Sports – and bad – On Full Display In High School Basketball Playoffs by Joe Davidson, Sacramento Bee, March 15, 2011.
San Jose, CA - March 14 - 2011 - Mom and son call injured rival lacrosse player after a high-school lacrosse game between Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton, CA, and St. Francis of San Jose. They called because it was the right thing to do. This is sportsmanship: the recognition of the value of one's opponent, and the concern about his well being even when you're trying to beat him on the field of play. Kudos to the Tinsley family of Sacred Heart prep. It should also be noted that there's a right way to receive an act of grace. Kudos to the athletic director of St. Francis of San Jose. He made sure that the Tinsleys knew how much the St. Francis family appreciated their call.
March 1, 2011 - "Sportsmanship is needed on and off the field, at home, in the classroom and even at your job." Michael Dunbar, 5th grader at Evansdale Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia, winner of the National Sportsmanship Day Essay Contest, Elementary School Division. Click here to read Michael's essay. Click here for the elementary, middle school, high school, and college winners. This year's National Sportsmanship Day was March 1, 2011.
Lincoln, NE - 2011 - The power of good sportsmanship. Sportsmanship is so valuable that it appears where you would least expect it. Click here to see sportsmanship training as part of a Nebraska 4-h Horse Program for youth.
Detroit, MI - September 21, 2010 - Inner City Football Coach Steps Up To The Plate - Develops Athletes of Character. Detroit Loyola's John Callahan runs innovative internship and mentor programs, and still produces a winning football team. See Detroit Loyola Is Producing Good Football Players, And Men, by Rod Beard, The Detroit News, September 21, 2010.
Springfield, MA - August 12, 2010 - Alfreda Harris Recognized By Basketball Hall of Fame: We know the Basketball Hall of Fame is about the Pippens, Jordans, Magics and Birds. But, most of us don't know that it's also about Alfreda Harris. That's right. Alfreda Harris! Ms. Harris received the Basketball Hall of Fame's Mannie Jackson award for lifelong accomplishments on behalf of her community. She's what basketball and education are all about. Harris is a Boston school board member, and former JC basketball. She has been a vital part of the Boston community, molding and saving countless lives through her SAT Prep Program, her city after-school basketball programs, her work with Reebok to bring computers and tutors into areas sorely lacking in educational essentials. Of course, she's done far more than this. So if you were wondering who the 72-year old lady was who received an award from the Basketball Hall of Fame, well, she's the embodiment of all the great people who use sports and education to save communities. See High Honors For Alfreda Harris: Hall of Famer In More Ways Than One by Joe Fitzgerald, Boston Herald, August 14, 2010; and Alfreda Harris Recognized by Basketball Hall of Fame, Boston Public Schools Blog, June 30, 2010.
Chicago, IL - May 5, 2010 - Golfer Loses Hole on Purpose - Let's Opponent Advance To National Championship Tournament. Good sportsmanship or demeaning to the opponent? Under NAIA rules, the winning team and winning individual in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference advance to nationals. University of St. Francis golfer Grant Whybark's team had won so he was assured of advancing. Whybark had also qualified for a playoff for the individual title against Seth Doran of Olivet Nazarene College. Whybark intentionally mishit his ball so his opponent could advance, sacrificing his chance to win the individual title. This gracious gesture showed respect for an opponent as Whybark confirmed, stating, "It was one of those things where I couldn't feel good taking something from him like this. My goal from the start was to get to nationals with my team. I had already done that...I felt Seth deserved to go to nationals just as much as I did." Some believe this is good sportsmanship. Others think it's demeaning to tank the match. The rules may be the problem here. It is common for the winning team and the low individual from one of the non-winning teams to advance. Doing so eliminates the incentive for a golfer to tank the match to help an opponent. Allowing the low scorer from the non-winning team to advance also prevents the falsification of scores in tournaments that are less visible. For more, see When Losing A Golf Tournament Really Makes You A Winner by Shane Bacon, yahoosports.com, May 5, 2010; and Honor or Not? Golfer Prompts Debate, ESPN.Com, May 6, 2010.
Mount Gilead, Ohio - January 2010 - Van Houten Awarded For Sportsmanship, ESPN.Com. College golfer Adam Van Houten wins a National Sportsman of The Decade Award for disqualifying himself for a scorecard error when he was leading a high school golf tournament by seven strokes back in 2005. A class-act deserving of recognition. Also See, Scorecard Confession Earns Ohio Golfer Sportsmanship Award, The Golf Channel.
Cypress, CA - March, 2009 - Losing Soccer Team Pitches In To Donate Money So Winners Can Travel to a State Youth Soccer Tournament. This one touches your heart. A losing soccer team from Cypress, CA helped its opponent from Huntington Park raise enough money for a bus to Davis, CA to attend a U-10 state soccer tournament. See An Amazing Story of Sportsmanship, onthepitch.org, March 25, 2009.
Fortville, IN - March, 2009 - Principal Takes Stand For Sportsmanship By Telling Coaches, "No Arguing With Officials." This policy (which has actually been in effect at Mount Vernon High School For 10 years now) and its sportsmanship ramifications are detailed in Coaches: No Arguing With Officials by Paige Flynn, High School Today, March, 2009 page 18.
Edina, MN - March 23, 2009 - Leave for a prep school? Enter the National Development Program? No! These hockey players stayed with their high school team because, "I wouldn't give up growing up with my friends for anything.? See Be True To Your School by Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated, March 23, 2009 page 26.
Milwaukee, WI - February 7, 2009 - This Team Scores By Missing. DeKalb High School Supports A Grieving Opponent By Intentionally Missing Two Free Throws. See Team's Gesture Supports Grieving Opponent, ESPN Rise, February 18, 2009; and Amid The Grieving, A Rare Act Of Sportsmanship, Associated Press in Rivals.com, February 18, 2009.
Michigan - Jan. 19, 2009 - Click here for a Michigan Official's Letter to The Spectators.
Minooka, IL - October 23, 2008 - Four Parents Charge The Court At Middle School Basketball Game ... And They Save The Official. See Parents Use AED To Save Stricken Ref by Heidi Terry-Litchfield, Morris Daily Herald, October 25, 2008. Think this story is unique? Think again. Refs were saved on December 5, 2008 in East Hampton, NY and on Jan 6, 2009 in Ellinwood, KS. See Referee's Close Call: When Official Collapses in Cardiac Arrest, Spectators Take Charge, Saving His Life, Hutchinson News (Kansas), January 14, 2009, and Ref Revived at Hoops Game, East Hampton Star, December 11,2008. For both stories see FirstAidCorps.org
September, 2008 - Colorado Cheer Coach Wins NFHS Spirit of Sport Award. Tammy Dufford, cheerleading coach at Evergreen (Colorado) High School, and her freshman cheerleader, Megan Bomgaars, are the 2008 national recipients of the NFHS "National High School Spirit of Sport Award." Bomgaars, who has Downs Syndrome, joined the Evergreen Cheer team. Her mother was grateful, and told Coach Dufford that she'd understand if Bomgaars wasn't used in competition. Coach Dufford said nonsense, we're a team (not an exact quote). The Coach worked with Bomgaars, and the team placed third at the Jefferson County league meet and won the small varsity division in regional competition. This is an excellent example that sports can help people maximize their abilities - even if they are developmentally challenged. It also shows us the meaning of character, and that a coach can instill team values under any circumstances. SeeColorado Cheer Coach Puts Individual Ahead of Team Championship.
August 2008, Football Players from Lowell High School, in Lowell, Michigan, Use Football As A Community Service Tool To Fight Breast Cancer. The Lowell Red Arrows donned pink jerseys and became the Lowell Pink Arrows in their September 12, 2008 home game, with all game proceeds donated to breast cancer charities. See Lowell Football Team Thinks Pink For Cancer by Jane Bos, Grand Rapids Press, August 12, 2008; for video see Lowell Red Arrows Turn Pink, WZZM 13 in Michigan, August 28, 2008
May, 2008 Sportsmanship Like No Other (opponents carry injured player around bases in college game) ABC News, May 1, 2008, and Central Washington Offers The Ultimate Act of Sportsmanship, ABC News, May 2, 2008.
February 2008 - The Edwardsville High School (Illinois) Wrestling Team: Edwardsville advanced to the Illinois State Wrestling Tournament, defeating Granite City High School. Edwardsville coach Jon Wagner realized a scoring error had been made and self-reported. The Illinois High School Association initially upheld the result because it was too late to change the result. Edwardsville insisted, and the IHSA ultimately reversed the result. Edwardsville won by losing. Click here for this and other acts of sportsmanship
October 29, 2006 - Framingham Women's Soccer: The Framingham State College women's soccer team were awarded a goal, but realized that the shot actually went through the side netting instead of the front of the goal. The team informed the officials, but a call's a call and the officials let the goal stand. So Framingham took matters into their own hand by allowing their opponent, Bridgewater State, to score to even up the game. Yes, it cost them. Framingham eventually lost the game. However, they did the right thing. Click here for Framingham State Women's Soccer Team Receives NCAA Sportsmanship Award., a Sept. 25, 2007 press release from the Framingham State Athletic Office.