Without a doubt, this time of year is all about winning. Thanks to the last few weeks of finals fever, the media has been full of tales about underdogs triumphing and boys from the wrong side of the tracksmaking good because of the saving grace of sport.

The football grand finals are one thing, but should we be concerned about how the high stakes attitudes of the AFL and NRL translate on the school sports field?

Parents invest significant money and time in providing opportunities for our kids to learn all the values and important life lessons that sport can impart. So deep is the idea that sport is inherently good, some private schools make weekend sport compulsory.

So it struck me as odd when my daughter started school and the principal penned a letter informing parents that physical violence or threats towards coaches, other parents and even the kids was unacceptable.

What sort of wholesome, life-affirming “great Australian sporting values” were being modelled at our children’s sporting events if warnings like this are necessary?

I’ve since heard enough horror stories of school sport to regard it as a nasty cesspit.
I know of parents abusing other people’s kids for missing a goal, parents intimidating coaches for letting weaker players have a turn on the court, and parents abusing umpires for not tolerating their kid’s violent behaviour.
And it’s not just team sports where parents model the worst sporting values. I’ve seen children reduced to tears by screaming and disappointed parents for losing an under-10s tennis match.

My friends’ 14-year-old daughter was called a “pussy” by her coach for not winning a match. Who knew that using a derogatory term for women and their genitalia would build motivation and self-esteem in teenage girls?

– Kasey Edwards


Read More: Aggression, Shame, Winning At All Costs: The Real Values We’re Teaching Kids Through Sport

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