What a Sport!

I remember one of the first high school basketball games I went to as a sixth grader spectator. I was nervous and not really sure what to expect of the big kids in the student section. I remember walking into the Legion Auditorium our school used for games. The slightly sweaty smell from the players and crowd, hot humid air, the adults sitting around the gym, and the noise. I remember making my way to the student section, sitting down and feeling a bit out of place. I was new to this and didn’t know or understand the rules of cheering at a game. But soon, learned what one could or couldn’t do. Learning the cheers, knowing when to stand up and shout and knowing when to be quiet. Taking my cues from the older kids and learning what sportsmanship was. It was exciting being part of the group and being swept up into the hysteria of the moment. I still think I could yell some of the cheers from those days!

I always enjoy watching St. Joseph’s students experience something similar during Lady Braves’ games each fall. They cheer, get a little rowdy and are learning what it means to be a good sport. The boys’ and girls’ basketball seasons are now passed and the kids had a great time cheering on the Braves! I thought they were doing well showing school spirit and belonging.
Then I received a phone call from a spectator from another team. She was very pleasant on the phone but concerned about the behavior of our students during a game she attended. She went on to tell that she had written a letter but had lost it. She decided to call instead. And so she did and I got the call.

I was irritated that our students acted in such a way that this spectator felt the need to call. Irritated that our students represented our school in a negative way. I was thinking of the all ways this would be addressed with the students.

As the spectator told her story, however, I had a realization. This was not a bad thing. No, not at all. What the students did was not okay but this was chance for growth and learning for our students. This was a chance to teach the students about sportsmanship, being a good spectator and being a good player. The spectator finished her story and I thanked her for the call with assurances the issue would addressed with our students.

I shared this story with Rec. Center Coordinator, Bryan. We discussed different ways to address the behavior and came up with a plan. We shared our plan with other administration and finalized the details.

A St. Joseph’s player is guarded by two players from the opposing team. In the background, the ref watches closely.
Players, competitors, spectators and refs all play a role in sportsmanship.

We assembled all of the 4-8th grader students on campus at the Rec Center. We went over the expectations for the Rec Center when attending a game. We gave them our expectations for being a good spectator and what a good sportsman is. We gave them the best information we had and now we hope the students retain some of expectations. We also know that all the staff who work with the students will have to give them gentle reminders over the course of the season and reinforce the positive behaviors.

We did this so our students can walk into the Rec Center and experience the sense of belonging that cheering for their home team can bring and the excitement of cheering as a group. We hope they remember the good times hanging out with their friends. We want them to enjoy being a little rowdy at the Rec when their team does well. We want them to cheer so hard that their throat hurts the next day. We want them to learn to celebrate in a positive way. We want them to clap when an injured players is able to get up. We want them to master these skills and take with along their journey them through life. We strive for the students to be good sports which leads into being decent adults.


Frank W.
7-8th Grade Residential Coordinator

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

7 thoughts on “What a Sport!”

  1. Thank you for teaching sportsmanship. That is a vital thing to learn as team players. On one youth basketball team they were evidently taught how to fake fouls and other types of un sportsman like conduct. They won many games but were known far and wide for not playing fair. Finally their coach was suspended after many complaints. It is sad what his teams learned. Hopefully they learned later how honesty actually pays. If the callers issue had not been addressed and I had found out about it later I would have discontinued my support for the school. Good luck. Win, lose or draw.

  2. Great article. Hug the kids. Children need positive direction…..moral guidlines….and lots of love…..)

  3. Thank you for sharing this wonderful event that occurred so the students at St. Jo’s can know the meaning of sportsmanship and acceptable behavior when things ‘get a bit rowdy’. I am sure they will reflect on the positive way it was brought to their attention with love and direction from you. May they go on to other sports events and share their sportsmanship to other teams. Go Big Blue!! Kudos to all the students!!

  4. We continually look for opportunities such as this to help teach our students skills they will need in the future. I can report that after we had the assembly, with the students, they were more appropriate during games and had a great team being rowdy! We had to give one reminder during a boys basketball game and the students were able to correct their behavior and meet our expectations.
    We are blessed to have these times to teach our students and blessed for all the support we receive! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *