Sportsmanship is defined as “conduct becoming to an individual involving fair and honest competition, courteous relations, and graceful acceptance of results.” Focusing on what you can learn makes you a better competitor and helps you improve your animal projects. Your behavior in the show ring reflects your behavior in life. Sportsmanship is a reflection of your character and impacts your reputation. Good sportsmanship is one of the most important things you can gain from showing animals in 4-H.
- Be gracious, win or lose. Do not brag about winning or complain about losing.
- Congratulate peers who succeed!
- Focus on what you can learn from the experience, not on ribbons or trophies.
- Respect yourself, your competitors, the judges and officials, and the rules.
- Accept responsibility for your loss or shortcomings. Use this information to improve yourself and your project.
- Although it is important to always do your best, the real goal is not to win, but to learn!
- If you ignore the feedback you gain from showing, you’re not doing your best to improve.
- Smile – showing your 4-H animals is fun!
Ways to encourage good sportsmanship –
- Lead by example!
- Thank or recognize good sportsmanship. Some counties give awards for exceptional sportsmanship.
- If someone is having a tough time, talk to them and help them come up with a plan to reach their goals. This will help shift a negative attitude to a positive one!
The Josephson Institute’s Character Counts! initiative has been a part of the 4-H Youth Development Program for years. The Six Pillars of Character:
are important goals for all 4-H youth, volunteers and parents to strive for. If we can all follow the pillars, good sportsmanship will follow.
Sportsmanship and ring etiquette are essential for a successful, fun, and educational show ring experience! Your behavior is a reflection of your character, so you should always do your best to have a positive experience! Up next month, a closer look at etiquette.
By Mary McLaughlin, Somerset County 4-H Volunteer, Rutgers Cooperative Extension