Archive for the ‘sportsmanship’ Category

2-4-6-8 Who Do We Appreciate?

March 29, 2010

Everyone knows the ‘2-4-6-8-Who-Do-We-Appreciate’ cheer that is performed at the end of most youth games. It is a great display of sportsmanship, especially when the cheering team has lost or is upset with the other team. It is important to let things go after a game. This cheer along with the shaking of hands or high-5’s is a good way of achieving this.

When I coached my kids’ teams, I always used this cheer at the end of games. I also used it at the end-of-the-year parties. However, at these parties, I had the players ‘appreciate’ the people who truly needed to be thanked–the parents.

As the last item on the agenda,

  • I gathered all the players around me.
  • I explained to them that they were going to do the cheer once last time. But this time, they were going to thank their parents or their guardians who took them to all the practices and games and who washed their dirty and smelly uniforms.
  • I told them that this had to be the best and most passionate cheer of the year.
  • Finally, I asked the players that at the end of the cheer, they go to the adults they thanked and give them a big hug and kiss.

If you are like me, I will take all the hugs and kisses I can get from my kids.

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Pre- and Post-Game Sportsmanship Rituals

March 11, 2010

When I played in West Germany as a first, second, and third grader, I was chosen to be a captain one year. At the time, there was a tradition that both teams followed before and after each game. Before the game:

  1. The home and away captains, followed by the respective starting goalies and then the rest of the players (no coaches) walked to the center of the field separated by the half-way line.
  2. When the team captains reached the center of the field, the teams stopped and faced each other.
  3. Then the home captain said the following cheer, “Wir begrüßen unsere Gegner mit einem dreifachen Hip Hip … Hurra, Hip Hip … Hurra, Hip Hip … Hurra”. Translated, the captain declared, “We welcome our opponents with three cheers.” Then the whole team got involved. The captain said, “Hip-hip” and the rest of the team responded with, “Hoo-rah” in unison. This was done three times.
  4. Then the opposing captain and team repeated the same cheer.

After the game, the teams again lined up across from each other. The captains and teams took turns declaring, “Wir bedanken uns bei unseren Gegnern mit einem dreifachen Hip Hip …. Hurra,  Hip Hip … Hurra, Hip Hip … Hurra”. Translated: “We thank our opponents with three cheers … hip-hip, hoo-rah … hip-hip, hoo-rah … hip-hip … hoo-rah”.

I think it is fantastic that many teams engage in a ceremonial handshake at the end of games. It teaches players good sportsmanship. It also allows players and teams to put aside disagreements or hard feelings that may have percolated during the game. It is important to learn to leave these feelings on the field.

I also love what professional teams do before a game. Players walk onto the field hand-in-hand with youth soccer players. Both teams face and salute the crowd. Then one team moves down the line, first shaking the hands of the referees followed by the hands of the opponents. Once the first team is done, the opponents shake the hands of the referees.

I strongly encourage leagues to formally adopt some sort of pre- and post-game ritual.

  • It should be done for all games, regardless if it is a scrimmage or a state championship game.
  • It sets the right tone for the game as well as after the game.
  • It gives the players an opportunity to acknowledge parents and fans (and vice versa).
  • It teaches players good sportsmanship.
  • The ‘pomp and circumstance’ makes the games more meaningful and memorable.

Are there other pre- and post-game rituals that leagues engage in? Readers of ‘Improving Soccer in the United States’ would love to hear about them.

Silver Lining to Aaron Ramsey’s Broken Leg

February 28, 2010

There was an ugly injury in the EPL this Saturday (February 27, 2010). A hard tackle by Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross resulted in a gruesome leg injury for Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey. Aaron, a very promising young midfielder, is certainly done for the season and probably the calendar year. Let’s hope he is able to recover and resume his career at the same high level.

A silver lining you ask?

  • Though the tackle was hard, there was no way Ryan wanted to injure Aaron like he did. He was truly remorseful on the field and after the game. It was a nice gesture that he went to Aaron’s side after being shown the red card. It was also nice to see Ryan accept his red card punishment without argument. Too many players will argue a dismissal even after blatantly and intentionally fouling another player.
  • Referee, Peter Walton, handled the situation very well. He acted swiftly in issuing the red card. It was also great that he read the situation correctly and allowed Ryan to apologize to Aaron on the field.
  • The rest of the players, especially the Arsenal players, could have easily lost their cool. They did not. I think they understood that this was not Ryan’s intention.

No one ever wants to see that type of injury. But at least good sportsmanship and cool heads prevailed. Here’s to a speedy and full recovery Aaron.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Good Sportsmanship

September 3, 2009

In many ways, it is disappointing that I am writing about good sportsmanship making a 2-3 goal difference per game. In an ideal world, we–players, coaches, and parents–would all exhibit good sportsmanship. Unfortunately, we know that this is rarely the case. But those teams whose players, coaches, and parents exhibit good sportsmanship will have an advantage over a team of poor sports in the eyes of the most important person/people on the soccer field–the referees.

Referees are just like you and me. They love the sport of soccer, don’t like individuals who complicate their lives, and like all of us, make mistakes. Referees are human. And because they are human, they will see and appreciate good sportsmanship.

These are some examples of good sportsmanship:

  • If a player fouls an opponent, have the player who committed the foul ask the opponent if he is OK. Extend a hand to help him up.
  • Don’t argue or talk back to the referee. If he made a bad call, keep in mind that the referee has made far fewer mistakes than your players.
  • Be respectful.
  • If an opponent is upset at a player and tries to provoke a confrontation, ignore the challenge. Walk away and let the referee handle the confrontational player.
  • Adhere to the referee’s pre- and in-game instructions. If you are supposed to sub at midfield, sub at midfield. If you and your players are supposed to be 4 feet off the touch line, be 4 feet off the touch line.

As a referee, my job is to judge and call a game with complete impartiality and neutrality. To the best of my ability, I always try to live by this principle. But I am human. I notice and appreciate well-mannered players, coaches, and parents. I also notice and don’t appreciate poorly-behaved players, coaches, and parents. Therefore, if I am a referee:

  • Would I withhold issuing a yellow card on a hard foul if the player who committed the foul shows remorse and compassion toward the fouled player? Maybe.
  • Would I only show a yellow card instead of a straight red on an extremely hard foul if the player who committed the foul shows remorse and compassion toward the fouled player? Maybe.
  • Would I not punish a well-mannered coach and team if  he accidentally had too many players on the field? Maybe.
  • Would I call a direct free kick instead of a penalty on a foul committed by a well-mannered and respectful player that took place only a few inches inside the penalty area? Maybe.

As you can see, I have listed four infractions that if called differently, could have had a huge impact on the outcome of a game. Not that good sportsmen and well-behaved players should ever get favorable calls. But I know for a fact that exhibiting this behavior and character can’t hurt. However, good sportsmanship and behavior should always be practiced, PERIOD! It will make the beautiful game that much more beautiful.

Counter Strategy

This one is easy. Show better sportsmanship and behavior than the opponent. Remember, soccer is not just about winning games. It is also about teaching and building character. No one likes a poor sport.