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Remember it’s their game, not the fans in the stands

This Friday night, our area high schools will take to the gridiron once again as football season kicks off.

We wish all our teams the best of luck for the upcoming season.

Now, to the parents of those boys on the fields we will offer some words of wisdom that goes back many years.

You are not on the field playing.

It is not your win or loss, it is the team’s.

You are a bystander watching your child play.

It is up to you to support him whether his team wins or loses.

We urge parents not to yell derogatory comments at the children playing or those coaching them.

We realize that some may think others could do something better, or that they might not make a decision this way or that.

We have to remember that our children already have enough &uot;bad&uot; role models when a superstar athlete misbehaves. Many get wrong lessons in sportsmanship, whether you like it or not, and for many the lesson isn’t one that you want your child to learn.

Our suggestion when you are watching sports with a child and someone does something that is wrong, speak to him or her about the action and explain why it’s wrong.

We urge you to use the following ideas:

n When a player loses his temper, ask your child how the player might have handled his anger differently.

n When a player misses an easy shot or loses a key point, discuss what that player does to get back in the game mentally.

That this isn’t the end of the world.

n If an athlete disagrees with an official’s call, see if he lets his anger and disappointment throw off his game. Point out the consequences of moping over a call. It is up to you to teach your child how important and difficult the job of the official is in the course of the game.

And remember that if your child hears you yelling at an official, he may think it is OK to do the same.

The difference is that your child can be ejected from the game and that is not what you, the official, the coaches or your child really wants.

n Teach your child that showboating is demoralizing to the other team.

n Any coaches penalized for arguing with the officials really hurt the team as a whole.

Teach your child how it hurts the team.

n Note examples of opponents acknowledging one another’s good plays.

n At the end of the game or match, watch to see whether the players shake hands and part amicably.

Finally, we offer this advice to the parents and the student athletes:

n Always play by the rules.

n Don’t lose your temper.

n Cheer good plays made by either team.

n Don’t talk trash or tease or goad opponents.

n Win or lose, be sure to shake hands with opponents and officials after a game.

n Don’t yell at teammates for making a mistake. Never criticize teammates or coaches on the sideline.

n Admit your mistakes instead of making excuses or blaming others.

n Try your hardest on every play, even if your team is losing by a lot.

Always remember, don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Again, our best wishes for a safe, fun and successful season.