At State Youth Games we place a great deal of emphasis on playing with good spirit and sportsmanship. This page gives you some information on what makes up “good spirit”, and how to incorporate it into your play.
How to play with good Spirit
Respect: Spirited games result from mutual respect among opponents. Consider the other team as part of your SYG community, not as an opponent to beat. Without them you wouldn’t be able to play.
Take time to learn the rules: Many sports will have a set of rules available at the fields, with some rules posted on the SYG website prior to SYG. It can be frustrating when others are unaware of the rules and un-willing to learn them. So take the time to read them if you are unfamiliar with the sport.
Control: Playing with Spirit takes real effort. Spirit is not just some abstract principle that everyone adopts and then games run smoothly without effort. Close calls are made in tight games. Playing with Spirit is about how you handle yourself under pressure.
Introduce yourself: If you are playing on someone you don’t know, give them a handshake and let them know your name. Instantly you’ve built a relationship with your opponent, making the game friendlier.
Spirit is compatible with “Finals” games. Just because the game is important, doesn’t mean some aspect of Spirit can be cast aside. Many teams have shown that you can bring all your competitive and athletic passion to a game without sacrificing fair play or respect for your opponent.
Don’t “give as you got.” There is no “eye for an eye.” If you are wronged, you have no right to wrong someone in return. In the extreme case where you were severely mistreated, you may bring the issue up with the opposing captain, Sport Coordinator, or SYG Sports Director.
Breathe. In the heat of competition, emotions can run high. After a hard foul, close call, or questionable decision, take a step back, pause, and take a deep breath.
When you do the right thing, people notice. When you turn the other cheek, you know you’ve done the right thing. You may not hear praise, there may be no standing ovation, but people do notice. Eventually, their respect for you and their appreciation for the Spirit of SYG will grow.
Be generous with praise. Compliment an opponent on her good play. Remark to a teammate that you admire his honesty in calling himself out-of-bounds. Look players in the eye and congratulate them when you shake their hands after a game. These small acts boost spirit greatly. They bring a large payoff for little time and effort.
Have fun. All other things being equal, games are far more fun with good Spirit. Go hard. Play fair. Have fun.