Setting an example: Good sportsmanship begins with parents

"Children need to see their parents feel proud of them no matter what their role is on the team," said Camardo.

Among parents with kids in sports a common theme seems to be, "enjoy it while they are still young."

Smiles and laughter are usually dominant on any given T-ball field, and mothers, like Christina Carras of Guilderland, say at that level you do not see too much competitiveness in parents, but, Carras said, it does creep up quickly. She also said it is important for parents to remember that many coaches are simply volunteers. They are often parents with full-time jobs and families, in addition to coaching.

"When I hear parents complain about how a coach is doing his or her job, I get frustrated. Parents need to remember these are just people helping out, doing their best," said Carras.

Carras also said she makes it a point to remind her son Andrew, who is on his first year of all-star little league baseball team, that he is part of an entire team.

"I tell my son that they win as a team and lose as a team, everyone is in it together," said Carras.

Teaching by example

There are plenty of stories about parents who show a lack of sportsmanship themselves, like the hockey dad in Worchester, Mass., who in 2000, beat up the coach after a dispute over a son's play time. It sounds almost too absurd to be true, but it is an example of how an athlete's parent can go from being supportive to being a bully.

In theory, being on an athletic team, in a club, or in the marching band are all supposed to be facets of a child's life, a way to make them feel part of something.

Mohonasen School Athletic Director Joseph Scalice said the school tries to be clear about expectations by holding a meeting for parents and athletes at the beginning of each season. At that time, they discuss rules and procedures.

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