I have touched on the importance of sportsmanship a few times in this writing journey, but I’ve never gone into detail. The dictionary’s definition of sportsmanship is, “conduct (as fairness, respect for one’s opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing); becoming to one participating in a sport. ” Respect for one’s opponent, ya know, that enemy rival team that sometimes you beat and sometimes they beat you. That team that sometimes gives you an odd feeling in the pit of your stomach. Here’s the deal‚ you must beat the best to be the best. Instead of dreading the thought of them, and going “ugh (insert eye roll) ” the moment you see their colors, try a little positivity. It’s easy to look for the negative, it is. True skill is searching for the positive in every negative, and once you train your mind to always recognize it, the easier it becomes. I know the excuses; I have used them myself. “If they weren’t in the competition we would have won.’ Is that winning though? Not by my book. If you are competing against no one, you aren’t competing; you are essentially an exhibition team, and where is the fun in that? Same rules apply with a team that is better than you at the present moment. We all have the ability to be the best‚ it just comes down to the work you put into it. As you sit there, griping about how easy it comes for them, realize it probably doesn’t. They could just want it more than you, could have trained longer and more often than you. That’s a hard fact for us coaches to sometimes swallow. Yet, taking the easy road and praying for them not to be there got you where? This sport is a competition; it’s the very air that we breathe. We live for this, train for this, and odds are, you don’t realize that your biggest competition is yourself. With that being said, why do you continue to talk negatively about other teams in front of your team? That same team that mimics your every move, your mirrors, your shadows. You, as a coach or as a parent, are sculpting their very minds, training them to be the adults they will become. Talking down on a team that scored higher than you doesn’t say anything about the other team, but it does say everything about your own character. We are all trying our best to create, mold, and shape our teams into unstoppable forces of nature. That and the love for the sport, and the passion we have is something we ALL have in common. For example, two years ago, my team was in a constant back-and-forth battle with another certain team. We broke the typical mold of our organizations, and finally decided to say, “we will get you next time. ” That next time came, we hugged it out and a beautiful friendship formed as a result. A person that I admire, adore, and am beyond grateful for started from a feud. Although she is on an opposing team, she has helped me in so many ways. We even talk on a regular occasion; her wins are my wins and my wins are her wins. We pick each other up and vent when needed. We have shared more laughs than I could have ever imagined. We celebrate victories, and strategize how to come back from defeats. It’s a journey we chose to take together, regardless of the long-standing hatred our teams share. However, our cheerleaders see how we bond and how we laugh, and it makes them do the same. Not just to each other, but other teams from organizations everywhere. It’s helping them build character, and showing them that the only person that can stand in their way is themselves. Without her, I would have gone insane, and I do wish everyone to have a bond with a rival team because at the end of the day, they may help you more than you could have ever imagined. They may just turn out to be an amazing person with a heart of gold who you can call a friend. So, wish the group in front of you good luck. Cheer for other teams’ victories, and hug them when they’re crying because their routine didn’t go as planned. Add a little kindness to this world full of hatred. And, please‚ STOP unscrewing another person’s lightbulb so that you can shine. What do you think about cheerleading sportsmanship? Let us know your experiences in the comments!