In any sport that we play or compete in there are rules that we follow so that everyone has the same opportunities and winning is based on who does better on the task at hand. Following those rules is good sportsmanship. At the same time keeping things safe in a competition is important too. So some sports have a ‘no pushing’ rule, or they may tell you how many individuals can be on the floor. This keeps things safe. Following rules like taking turns keeps things fair.
There are other kinds of rules though that are not written down but are still important to a game being fun for all the participants. These are rules of character. Rules of character are unwritten rules that ask us to be polite, kind and respectful to the coach, the referee, to our teammates, and to the opposing team.
If we follow the rules of character we are going to cheer others on and say “good game’, at the end of a game with a great attitude and smile. We will choose not to yell at our teammate or opponent, we are not going to BOO them, we are not going to argue with them. We may not agree and we may express our disagreement, but those practicing good sportsmanship will do so with respect, kindness and politely.
Everyone of us is on a team. Our most important team we are on is our family. Mom, Dad and all the children are teammates. So what are we bringing to the team? What are the strengths we bring that make the team better? It is very seldom that we see everyone is good at the same skills. That is what makes a team so strong. What I may be weak at, may be your strength. When we pool the strengths of each of us then we are able to accomplish tasks and goals that would have been much harder if we had tried to do them by ourselves. At the same time a team can make us better at skills too. You may not be real good at organization, but if you watch and listen to someone on your team who has that skill, you will find that you will improve in that skill set also. You may not ever be as good as your teammate but you will remember that you have your own set of skills to bring to the team. Appreciating our own strengths and the skills of others will help a team be stronger too. There is no reason for us to pretend that we are not good at a skill, thinking that others may like us better or we do not want others to think we are showing off. At the same time we do not want to quit a team, or stop playing full out, because someone is better at a skill that we wished we had. Remember, Team is about pooling our skills to accomplish a common goal using the skills of many. When we can share an accomplishment with others it is more enjoyable and will get done faster than if we tried to do it by ourselves.
All of us have been on good and bad teams. When we are on a good team we can really feel the spirit of cooperation, there are individuals with good attitudes and the character of the individuals create a winning attitude. Even if it is not a sports team, the attitude is about getting the job done while making the best of the situation – maybe even having fun. Not all great teams win all of the time. But one thing that all great teams and teammates do is play fair and divide the tasks fairly, so that all the responsibility does not fall on any one person. When things are going well for the team, it is not surprising that they are successful in the task at hand. Sometimes though the team is just not working. One thing I have learned in teaching is that when things are not going as you would like to see, the first place to look is at your self. If you are on a team and it just is not working out – we may want to look first at ourselves and see if we are being a good teammate. Examine our attitude, the responsibilities we have taken from the leader and examine what we can do become a successful team. It may require that we have a team meeting and refocus on the goals of the team, making sure everyone is on board. What can we do to contribute to the success of the team? Using “I” messages is a good way of expressing our concerns without pointing fingers or making others feel rejected. “I need help in this matter or that” is a good way of being sure everyone on the team knows how they can be more effective teammates. If you have been on a good team or bad tell us about it here. What did you do to have the best experience possible?