Sportsmanship: How to Lose Like a Champion

Losing, when you are used to winning, can be hard.

My son had never experienced being eliminated from a tournament.  I wasn’t sure how he’d handle it.  In fact, I think in his mind every season was supposed to end with a victory and championship trophy for him.  But it didn’t; it ended with the other team celebrating as the players on our team had a look like, “wait, what just happened…is it over?” Although hurting for my son’s crushed spirit, I couldn’t help but be proud as I watched him display great sportsmanship immediately after the loss.

Champions leave it on the court or field

Our team played as hard as they could.  They didn’t give up, even when it looked like it may be over.  Yet, when the game was over there were no hard feelings.  It wasn’t personal, and they were able to look each other in the eye and say good game.  Some of the kids on our team were friends with kids on the other team, and I’m sure they’ll be playing together soon.  In fact, one of our coaches and his son went to watch his friend, on the team that beat us, play (and win) the championship game.

Champions congratulate the other team

Our team was winning by a few runs with the chance to add to the lead and make a comeback more difficult.  We were so close to tasting victory. Yet after losing something we had a great chance of winning, we sincerely congratulated the other team.  As coaches we didn’t force the kids to congratulate the other team, they all did it willingly.  

Some of our players had tears in their eyes while doing it, but they acted liked champions and gave the other team the props they deserved.

Champions reflect but move on

Last year when we won the championship, one of the coaches asked me and the other coach if we wanted to do it again next year.  The answer?  Yes!  The same coach said the same thing this year as we were packing up equipment after the loss. The answer?  Yes! Whether you win or lose, enjoy the victory, learn from the loss, and look forward to doing it again the next time, just like a champion.

Jackie Bledsoe, Jr.  is a sports parent of three, and writes on sports parenting. He has played sports for over 30 years, including the collegiate level, and coached youth sports for the past eight years. 

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