Fair play involves everyone who organizes and delivers community sport. As a league or division organizer, you do a lot behind the scenes: you organize schedules, ensure that rules are enforced, and communicate with coaches, parents and players. You also play an important role in creating an atmosphere that encourages everyone to play fairly.
By promoting fair play values to coaches, officials, athletes and spectators of your league, you’ll make a positive difference to the sport experience of children in your community and to their development as individuals.
This doesn’t have to take a lot of time or add much work to your already busy schedule. This resource is geared to help you make fair play an integral and rewarding aspect of your league in a way that is simple, effective and fun.
Integrity, fairness and respect – these are the principles of fair play. And since children learn best by seeing and doing, sport offers an excellent opportunity to teach fair play in a way that is both effective and fun.
The principles of fair play are reflected in the five simple statements below. By promoting and teaching these ideals, you can help all participants enjoy and benefit from sport.
1. Respect the Rules.
2. Respect the Officials and their decisions.
3. Respect your opponent.
4. Give everyone an equal chance to participate.
5. Maintain your self-control at all times.
Like most league organizers, you probably volunteered to co-ordinate a league because of your love for and commitment to the sport, and to the kids in your community. Whatever your reasons for being involved, your decisions have a direct impact on the level of participation in your sport and on the enjoyment children get out of it.
Sport has two kinds of participants – athletes who derive great enjoyment and personal challenge from their game or activity, and those who do not and eventually drop out. What makes the game so different for these two groups? For many, it’s the result of what they learned – or didn’t learn – when they first became involved in amateur sport.
There is importance in teaching respect for the rules and for other participants, teaching fair play and the spirit of the game as well as teaching the skills. Without fair play, some children will come to believe that winning or scoring points are the only aims – and that means they will miss a lot of the enjoyment and opportunities that sport and recreation have to offer.
A recent study of coaches and their athletes undertaken by Angus Reid (fall 1991) revealed some important findings about how they perceive and practice fair play:
1. The vast majority of athletes and coaches place a higher value on fair competition than on winning. However, most athletes associate fair play primarily with respect for the rules, whereas most coaches associate fair play with respect for the officials. It is important that we all have a clear understanding of what fair play is, and that we work together toward common fair play goals.
2. Younger athletes are more open-minded and committed to fair play than older athletes. This highlights the need for fair play education for both groups. Older athletes need to be reminded of the importance of fair play, younger athletes need to be taught fair play effectively so that it ‘sticks’ in later years.
3. Young athletes look first to coaches, parents and league officials for guidance on fair play, but these individuals often lack the proper teaching tools. Fair Play: It’s Your Call! provides those tools for coaches and other adults involved in the delivery of community sport.
In the world of business, an arrangement that benefits two parties is a win-win deal – one that allows both sides to take advantage of the same opportunity without compromising their competitive spirit or individual goals.
Fair play makes this possible in the world of sport! By making sure that the rules, officials and opponents are respected at all times, it gives all participants an equal chance to develop and test their skills. What’s more, it challenges them to measure their success by scoring and performing well – with dignity, integrity and pride.
Wanting to win is great and should be encouraged, but not at all costs. Fair play it’s a win-win approach that means greater benefits and better competition for everyone in sport!
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