Column: The focus on sportsmanship in high school activities now extends to online behavior – Leader Publications


Column: Emphasis on sportsmanship in high school activities now extends to online behavior

Posted 8:10 PM on Wednesday, August 3, 2022

With the changes that have taken place in college sports over the past two years, high school sports are truly the last level of purely amateur competition in our country – and the NFHS and its member state associations want it to stay that way. .

As football, volleyball, soccer, field hockey and other sports begin this fall, high school coaches and athletic/activity directors will attend pre-season meetings to celebrate results expected from educational sports, as well as speeches, debates, music, theater and other programs.

Among these fundamental values ​​of educational activities that must be discussed is sportsmanship, ie good sportsmanship. More than winning, more than learning the skills of a sport, the emphasis on sportsmanship has been one of the defining elements of high school sports and other activities for over 100 years.

In addition to maintaining the sound traditions of the sport and minimizing the risk of injury, NFHS playing rules encourage fair play, and the front page of all NFHS rules publications include a statement that “Each athlete is responsible for Exercise caution and good sportsmanship”.

In the past, with an emphasis on conduct on the playing field or field – or in the auditorium or rehearsal room – sportsmanship has been defined as those qualities of behavior that are characterized by generosity and genuine concern for others. More than preparing students for sports or other higher-level activities, one of the important goals of high school sports and activities is to help the more than 12 million people who participate in these programs become responsible citizens.

And in today’s mobile-dominated online world, that goal has become more difficult. Now, messages to students in high school sports and other sportsmanlike activities must be communicated before they reach the training ground or court, because an inappropriate message, tweet or message could change their lives forever.

At the recent Virtual National Student Leadership Summit hosted by the NFHS, Christina Jontra of Neptune Navigate, one of the NFHS’ newest corporate partners, discussed the need for good sportsmanship online as much or more than in the field or in the field.

In the digital age we live in, participants in high school activity programs should be aware that their character and respect for others should be the same, whether in the sport or the activity itself, or on line.

As the popularity and influence of social media continue to grow, it is imperative that student-athletes, as well as coaches, administrators, parents, and everyone involved in educational athletics, be aware of the ways which they can put themselves at risk with their online behavior. and understand the techniques they can use to prevent this from happening.

In his recent presentation, Jontra noted five characteristics of good online sportsmanship: honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility and courage. Just as a student would respect an opponent on the field or in the debating room, the same must happen online.

At pre-season meetings this fall, coaches and athletic/activity directors should encourage students in their programs to be mindful of online contact with individuals from opposing teams, especially banter that could be perceived as of cyberbullying. As Jontra mentioned in his message during the NSLS, hurtful words can ruin a person’s life forever.

Fortunately, during the season, the millions of high school students involved in sports and the performing arts have less free time to spend online on a daily basis, but the time spent should be done in a positive way. Not only could harmful words on social media affect a student’s chances of securing an athletic scholarship, inappropriate messages could also negatively impact future job opportunities as employers more actively audit social media. social.

Whether the setting is in front of hundreds of people at an actual game or event, or a private online experience alone, positive and respectful behavior should be the choice every time.

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is entering her fifth year as Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations in Indianapolis, Indiana.


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