What is important in competitive sport

A coach's letter in defence of sportsmanship and against a narrow-minded, winning-is-everything approach

Shunpiking's 6th Annual Black History Supplement
Volume 7, Number 41, 2002

Friendship First
Dear Tony Seed,
Shunpiking Magazine

I just read your article about the Justin Coward Tournament (on sportsite.ca) and again feel excited, overwhelmed and very pleasantly surprised that such a tournament takes place and that the values it stands for are really at the forefront.

I am a new coach to basketball and, even though we are a Bantam C team -- really an introductory team to competitive sport -- coaching has been a very challenging experience, bringing out the best and the worst in me and challenging me to re-evaluate what my values in sport are.

One can become very narrow-minded and competitive and only want to win at any cost. We are fortunate on our team to have a girl playing with us who has a mental handicap. Sometimes it's been frustrating as her basketball abilities are limited and, at other times I am amazed at how the other girls include her and make her feel an important part of the team. What lessons we learn and pass along to the kids in the end matter so much more the winning at any cost.

Once my daughter was involved in a cross-country run and was winning the race, when her friend fell and dropped out. My daughter stopped to help her friend; as a result she didn't place well. I got after my daughter for stopping, and my husband later asked me my definition of sportsmanship ... a good lesson learned.

Being involved this year, especially with 12-13 year-old girls, has been a wonderful experience for me, and I think it has been a great experience for them as well. It is such a difficult time for girls at this age, and to be able to throw themselves into sport, have fun, win, lose, and celebrate a great year will carry them a long way in the future.

Thank God for tournaments like the Justin Coward!! They help keep us focused on what is important in an all-too-competitive world.

And thanks to you, Tony, for helping keep Justin's memory and values alive.


Barb Campbell,
St. Margaret's Bay
Nova Scotia
April, 2002

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