Five Ways to Teach Kids Good Sportsmanship

Jonathan Oshinski
“OBTC.” It’s not just a saying, but a way of life as a Pinecrest student athlete. As a former student at Pinecrest Academy, this was one of the many valuable lessons that I was taught and has remained with me to this day. I was a sophomore basketball player, and my coach told our team that “OBTC” would be our motto, but it became more than just a saying; it was our identity.

So what exactly is OBTC? OBTC stands for Our Best to Christ. It means that in everything you do, whether it be on the basketball court, at home or in the classroom, you should give your very best, no matter what the circumstances. This message had a profound meaning in my life and is something that I continue to strive for daily.

Now, as a teacher and coach at Pinecrest, I feel that I am called to help instill this “OBTC” message in my students, keeping in mind the important identity and mission of our school: to form Christian leaders who will transform society. Our students have been given great gifts, talents and opportunities to participate in a sport, and thus, it is important that they fulfill their potential in the manner that Christ calls them, and it’s our duty as leaders at a Catholic/Christian school to guide them in this way.

One way to live out “OBTC” on the basketball court is to demonstrate good sportsmanship. This is very important, because there is more to life than the game itself. Competition in sport is temporary, but the lessons that one gains from it will last a lifetime.

Here are five ways to instill the virtue of good sportsmanship in kids:

  1. True “Success.” “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing that you did YOUR BEST to become the best that YOU are capable of becoming. Everyone wants to win the game, but one can be successful even in his losses by knowing he gave his very best. At the end of the day, win or lose, be sure that you gave your best and use that as your measure of success.
  2. A Humble Winner and a Gracious Loser. After you win, act like the team you would want to lose to. It is important to demonstrate good character after a win, because everyone knows what it feels like to lose. Similarly, nobody likes to lose, but pouting does not change the outcome. Keep your head high and think through what you could have done better to achieve the result that you want.
  3. Respect Your Opponent. Two things come to mind on this point. First, give every opponent your best effort and never underestimate her ability. Secondly, if you have something to say to an opponent, make sure it is something positive. The object of the game is to score more points than your opponent, not to humiliate or talk poorly about them. Keep your mind focused on the game, and don’t let someone distract you by jawing with her.
  4. Let the Official Officiate. Many times, it is easy to want to argue with the officials about a bad call that goes against your team. Rather than arguing and taking your focus away from the game, learn from the call and adjust your game accordingly. The official won’t change the call nor the way he officiates the game, so be sure to figure out why the call was made and learn from it.
  5. Be a Good Competitor. Each player should compete at his very best, but be sure not to let the competition get away from treating the opponent well. After the play is done, help another player up off the court and then get ready to compete again. Give your all during the play, but between the play, treat your opponent the way you would want to be treated.

It is a blessing to be able to compete, but the heat of the battle should not interfere with our character. We are still called to live out the values that Christ wants us to, even during fierce competition. By living out “OBTC,” one obtains greater benefits from the competition than simply winning the game.

Jonathan Oshinski is the Physical Education Teacher for the Middle School, and the 7th Grade Boys Basketball and Baseball Coach at Pinecrest Academy, a private Catholic school located in Cumming, Georgia. His basketball team recently won the Metro 10 Championship. He can be reached at joshinski@pinecrestacademy.org.
Pinecrest Academy is a private PreK-12 Catholic school located in Cumming, South Forsyth, just minutes from Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Suwanee. We serve families of all faiths seeking a Christian education for their children. To learn more about our unique educational philosophy, visit our Welcome page.

The mission of Pinecrest Academy is reflected in the word Integer, which is Latin for “whole,” or “entire,” and reflects our goal of forming the whole child as an authentic “Person in Christ.” The school motto Semper Altius, means “Always Higher,” and challenges our students, parents, staff and faculty to strive for excellence in all areas of Integral Formation® - intellectual, spiritual, human and apostolic.