There are not many things I say more often when teaching than…
“After all… It’s just a game”
It’s even on of my most commonly used PE phrases as you can see below:
The reason that I emphasize this so often is to remind students about the importance of using good sportsmanship and making sure that they don’t get too worked up over winning and losing.
I do however think it’s extremely important to play games where students win and lose, otherwise they will never get a chance to learn how to win and lose correctly and I as a teacher will miss out on many teachable moments.
If we decide to never keep score, or never play games with winners and losers, then we are contributing to the “everyone gets a trophy” entitlement culture that so many young kids are a part of now days.
Instead of creating un-realistic expectations in the minds of our students about how they will always win and be successful at everything they attempt, lets teach them how to win and lose with good sportsmanship and treat the other team with respect no matter what the outcome of the game is.
As the old saying goes:
“an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
I’ve found this to be true in my experience teaching Physical Education. The longer you teach the more and more you will be able to predict which situations, activities or games are going to put students in situations where they will struggle to use good sportsmanship.
One of the most successful strategies I have found to prevent poor sportsmanship, is making sure to remind students about sportsmanship before gameplay, giving examples of poor sportsmanship and examples of good sportsmanship and then talking about students examples as I see them throughout the game.
Another great tool that I use at my school is an idea that originated from a PE Central post, it’s called the Good Sportsmanship Code.
This is just a statement that I have printed on a poster on the wall and anytime a class has trouble using good sportsmanship during a game, we immediately stop the gameplay and bring everyone over to the poster and recite the code together.
Check out the video below for more info and a recent example of how I used this strategy as a teachable moment in class:
So to Recap:
Prevention is a lot better than cure
Have reminder and expectations clearly posted for students to reference when needed
I have found that these two strategies have been very effective and helped to create a culture of sportsmanship and helped students to realize the importance of enjoying the gameplay no matter what the outcome of the game is.
You can download a free copy of the Good Sportsmanship Code for your gym below:
The 2 Updated Versions Below:
The First Version of the Poster Below:
If you have any awesome strategies for ways to increase sportsmanship, leave them in the comments!
P.S. If you want my take on whether or not we should have winners and loser in PE Class, check out the video below: