The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

May 7, 2013

Ref's death a consequence of lack of sportsmanship

(Continued)

But just like passing, dribbling and hitting, those skills don't come with the uniform and the practice schedule. They have to be taught and reinforced by league administrators, coaches and, of course, the parents who signed their kids up for a team in the first place.

"Most Americans really want their kids to learn values through sports. And research has found we can teach kids to be good sports and enhance their moral development through sports if it's done correctly," Gould said. "But the big myth is it just happens."

Even referees and officials can do a better job, Mano said.

Watch any college basketball game, and odds are you'll see a coach not only stalking the sideline but coming onto the floor to protest a call. That's a violation, Mano said, yet it's almost never called.

"We've softened too much by letting bad behavior go escaped," he said.

It may not seem like much. But add up all the little transgressions that have been overlooked or excused, and sports now has a big problem.

"I really believe in the power of sport for changing people," Gould said. "But it's not going to happen if we just hope it happens. We need to train coaches, and the leagues need to be organized and have pretty defined rules of what's tolerable and what's not tolerable.

"You also need to recognize good sporting behavior," he added. "It's not just about fixing the problem."

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has developed a "True Sport" campaign to help parents, coaches and administrators return the emphasis in sports to the life lessons that don't show up in the won-loss column. The program includes educational materials, codes of conduct and good behavior pledges, and the approach is individually tailored for athletes in elementary school, middle school and high school. In the Netherlands, the Dutch FA responded to Richard Nieuwenhuizen's death with a "Respect" campaign targeted at players of all levels.

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