• Home
  • Articles
  • Voices of the Nation: How do you Combine Sportsmanship and the Competitive Drive to Win?

Voices of the Nation: How do you Combine Sportsmanship and the Competitive Drive to Win?

By NFHS on February 10, 2016 blog Print

This article appears in the February issue of High School Today.

Don Showalter
Basketball Coach
Iowa City High School
Iowa City, Iowa

One of the aspects of sportsmanship is to respect your opponent. The best way to respect your opponent is to be fully prepared to compete against the opponent, which involves knowing the scouting report, playing to win, preparing in practice and focusing on the skills needed to win the game. I feel by doing these things in preparation, the competitive drive to win will coincide with good sportsmanship.


Jeff Rabberman
Head Varsity Baseball Coach
Gaithersburg High School
Gaithersburg, Maryland

I always tell my teams that if you play the game the right way, you will be rewarded. A big part of that is making sure we respect the game and our opponent. Our county gives out sportsmanship awards for each sport. One of our goals each year along with winning our division, region and state championship is earning this sportsmanship award. These goals all go hand in hand and my players and coaches understand the importance of this philosophy.

Jim Rhoads
Head Basketball Coach
Hereford High School
Parkton, Maryland

The answer is simple. These two qualities need to be taught and modeled by coaches and parents. Most people in athletics are competitive by nature, but not all demonstrate the class and respect that they should. I credit my mom and my high school coaches for always demanding good sportsmanship no matter the outcome of the game. Athletics can bring out the best and worst in people, and coaches and parents make all the difference when it comes to how an athlete reacts as the game unfolds. Coaches should realize their behavior and reactions will be the signals their young, impressionable athletes will mimic and learn from.

Kyle Elmendorf
Girls Basketball Coach
Orchard Farm High School
St. Charles, Missouri

You can be incredibly nice and exceedingly tough at the same time. There is room for sportsmanship and competitive drive to co-exist. In order for this to occur, athletes should be taught that the ultimate competition is within. The opponent is not the competition, but rather an ally to help bring out the best version of yourself. In knowing this, good sportsmanship is appreciated and practiced. Coaches must emphasize the importance of ethical behavior and individual integrity. By combining these values with the belief that ultimate competition is within, coaches will install the proper success mindset within their athletes.

Steve Amaro
Athletic Director, Tennis Coach
Freedom High School
Oakley, California

There are a few things we do to grow and appreciate sportsmanship. At the end of each season, coaches select one nominee for the athletic sportsmanship award. The athletic director and administration review the nominees. All are given recognition at the end-of-the-season awards night with certificates and plaques to commemorate their contributions to the school atmosphere. We also have league-wide recognition on our All-Sportsmanship teams. At post-season meetings, each coach nominates a player from each league school with the restriction that coaches cannot nominate their own players. Coaches then select the team. All-Sportsmanship team members are given certificates and publicized in the local press.