I have always wanted to be a coach. So, when I was asked to help coach Dillon’s indoor soccer team, I did not hesitate. I said “Yes!” But, here’s the thing. I know nothing about soccer. However, I love organized sports (especially football). I am in awe of the transformative force a good coach can be in a young person’s life (ht Coach Haag). And, I am always looking for a way to teach Dillon about life without overtly teaching him about life. So, I wrote up and shared my understanding of sportsmanship with Dillon and his team. Neither he nor they know I wrote them. But, now you do. Here they are:

Play Fair: Compete by the rules. Win by the rules.

Respect Your Opponent: You are fellow athletes gathered together on a field of play to bring out the best in each other.

Be A Team Player: Play any role that helps the team. Respect the role that others play and let them play it.

Hustle On And Off The Field: The field is sacred. It is the arena. Once you step upon it you are no longer a spectator. You are a player. Players hustle.

Congratulate Your Teammates Coming Off The Field: Regardless of their performance, give them a hi-five. Tell them “Good job.” They were in the arena.

Accept Official Rulings From The Referee: You have one job and that is to play. Focus on that.

Stay Calm: Keep in control of your emotions and use any frustrations as fuel to hustle harder.

Keep Playing: Don’t stop until the whistle blows.

No Trash Talking: It gives you bad breath.

Be Modest: Celebrate when we score. Run around. Embrace your teammates. But, keep your shirt on.

Encourage Your Teammates With Less Experience: Celebrate when you see them do something they thought they could not do. Run around. Embrace them. And, if you want to, take your shirt off.

Lift Your Teammates Up: When someone makes a mistake, don’t criticize them. Tell them “Its no big deal” and get back to hustling.

Give It All You Got: When the field asks for more hustle, give it.

Lose With Dignity: Nothing reveals your character more than how you handle a loss. Keep your head up. You were in the arena. Win or lose we wish we were you.

Win With Class: Roar with your team. Not at your opponent.

Congratulate The Other Team: Win or lose, line up and tell them “Good game”. Like you, they too were in the arena.

Give The Referee A Good Handshake: It takes a firm grip, a look in the eye and a smile.

Say Thanks: Thank your people for giving you the opportunity to play.

Get Better: Reflect upon your performance, own your mistakes and learn from them. Life is about becoming a better version of yourself each and every day.


1. You can switch out “shirt” with “helmet” and it works just fine for football.

2. Download a pdf version of Sportsmanship.