Sportsman Challenge


Are you up to this Challenge? ...

"to behave with grace and honor, and show respect for fellow participants and officials, no matter if your fortunes are good or bad in the competition."

- A. Genchi


the loss of perspective...

"a person who can take loss or defeat without complaint, or victory without gloating, and who treats his opponents with fairness, generosity, courtesy"

Webster's Dictionary

The failure to remember that youth soccer players are not small adults, but children who are developing into adults.

We believe that attempts to treat young soccer players as though they are already professionals, or as though every game will determine if they will receive a college scholarship are doing much more damage to these children than most people understand.

It is past time for a revolution in sideline behavior. A return to a display of mutual respect for opponents and officials.

We are asking everyone who attends Challenge Sports events to help us create the kind of positive atmosphere that will make it possible for every participant to feel proud of their own efforts and results (no matter what the scoreboard shows) and to acknowledge the efforts of their teammates, opponents, and referees.




-- DON'T: Focus on wins and losses. Some experts suggest that the perfect season is .500, enough wins for confidence, enough losses for a challenge. Adjust your expectations.

-- DO: Have a plan in place for disruptive parents and make sure everyone knows it will not be tolerated. Forfeit a game if necessary.

-- DON'T: Yell at the players, especially your children. Positive feedback is always encouraged, but the coach handles strategy, not the parents.

-- DO: Get to know the coach and understand his philosophy. But do not campaign for playing time for your child.

-- DON'T: Get carried away if your child shows early athletic ability. Studies show only 10 percent of gifted athletes could be recognized by the age of 12.

-- DO: Recognize that a full college scholarship is not a realistic goal for the majority of players, even the good ones. Thirty million children are playing sports in America. Only about 300,000 play in college at Division I, II, or III level.

-- DON'T: Launch into a critique after each game. Listen. Ask your child, "What was your favorite part of the game? Why?"

-- DO: Concentrate on ELM. E for Effort, which everyone can contribute. L for Learning skills. M for Mistakes (bounce back from them; everyone makes them).

-- DON'T: Stand by and let a parent abuse an official, coach, or player. Remind him or her, as a group, that the game is for the kids. Make it clear this is not a confrontation but that he or she is out of step with the majority.

-- DO: Set up a workable plan for grievances. Make it clear that nothing will be settled at the game, but there is a way to present concerns to an impartial board. Angry, out of control parents will get a hearing, but not on the field.

-- DON'T: Vent at the officials. There is no harder job, and most of them are volunteers, taking on what has become an unpleasant task for the good of your children. Respect their commitment and realize they may miss a call.

-- DO: Encourage your child and his teammates. Studies show that the "magic ratio" between praise and criticism that works is 5:1. Children who received a 1:1 ratio were described as "despairing."

(Sources: C.W. Nevius San Francisco Chronicle Saff Writer. The Positive Coach Alliance, Stanford University; and the Joseph Matteucci Foundation, Castro Valley.).

-- RECOMMENDED READING: Will You Still Love Me if I Don't Win? by Christopher Andersonn. Why Johnny Hates Sports by Fred Engh.


We would like to encourage each coach to ask every player and parent and spectator who might come to a Challenge Sports Tournament to visit this page before the Tournament.

© Challenge Sports