Acts of good sportsmanship exhibited in high school sports

Perhaps the one aspect of high school sport that most sets it apart from all other levels of play in our country is the emphasis on fair play.

Everyone has a role to play. Coaches should focus on coaching. Officials should stick to making field or field calls. Players can only play between the lines. And parents should know that their job is to support their children in the best possible way.

Because of the importance of promoting respect, integrity and fair play in high school activity programs, the NFHS began its celebration of National month of high school activities this week focusing on this crucial area. October 1-10 was designated as National Sportsmanship Week, Fan Appreciation and Speech Announcers.

While there have been reports of unsportsmanlike behavior this fall, we believe most students, coaches, officials and parents are grateful for the resumption of activity programs and fully committed to respectful behavior. We have heard of many student-athletes who have outdone themselves to demonstrate that at the level of the game in high school, there are, in fact, more important results than victory.

During a football game last month between two schools in Iowa, one player received considerable notoriety for his spontaneous act of sportsmanship.

In the fourth quarter of a hotly contested game, Mario Hoefer of Charles City High School stopped to help Carter Steinlage of New Hampton High School, who was lying on the field with a leg cramp. Having experienced a few cramps himself during the match, Hoefer responded empathetically.

“I saw it all happen in the room,” Hoefer said in a Today.com article. “I run to the other side to get there and see him come down. At first I was running towards my teammates’ high-five, but I saw him grab his calf. I saw him come down and I didn’t see anyone going there to help him. I know what it feels like and wanted to help her get over this cramp until someone came along.

The photo of Hoefer lifting Steinlage’s leg to free Steinlage from his cramp has gone viral and has garnered considerable national interest.

“I just wanted to help him,” Hoefer added. “I would do the same thing over and over again. We’ve been playing each other for years now. It was more like a brotherly thing to help him.

Almost by the way, Charles City won the game in early September, 14-8.

Also in early September in Orem, Utah, two high school football teams came together during a time of adversity in a sign of unified support. In a rivalry match between two Orem schools – Orem High School and Timpanogos High School – Rebekah Shelley of Orem fell after taking a corner kick and was not moving on the grass, prompting authorities to call an ambulance.

According to an article in Salt lake city News from Déseret, Timpanogos coaches and players approached Orem players and gathered to pray for the injured player. The teams knelt in a circle, hugged and said a prayer for Shelley.

“A lot of people talk about rivalry, but sometimes there is more than rivalry,” Timpanogos head coach Robyn Bretzing said in the News from Déseret article. “It was a good demonstration for everyone that it’s not just sport. There is sportsmanship. There is friendship.

“There is so much more that these young athletes can learn about life while playing sports,” Bretzing continued. “And that’s one of our biggest jobs as a coach – raising these athletes to be better people and contribute to their society. To teach them, “OK, I can let my faith take over and my compassion take over.” ”

Shelley had responded the next morning and was moving around and talking and she was expected to recover.

Since the beginning of the NFHS ‘ High school today magazine in 2007, over 100 articles were published on stories of student-athletes and teams overcoming adversity, showing respect to the opponent through sportsmanship and reaching out to others in the need in their communities.

These recent events in Iowa and Utah, along with others that occur every day, indicate that fair play comes before victory and defeat. There will be adversity with good times, and the emphasis on sportsmanship helps students deal with both situations.

While there is still a lot of work to be done in respectful behavior, there is evidence that these programs are making a difference in the lives of many people. These stories of fair play – and others that occur every day in our country’s 19,500 high schools – offer great hope for the future of educational activity programs.


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Joseph D. Whitman

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