by Maddie Hodge
Good sportsmanship is deemed the foundation for fair play, ethical behavior, and integrity, which encourages fun and safe athletic competitions, especially in the state of Wisconsin.
The WIAA fosters the ideals of sportsmanship in conjunction with the National Federation of State High School Associations both in perception and practice. Generosity and genuine concern define sportsmanship for not only the opposing team, but also for the coaches on the bench, the referees on the sidelines, and the family members who never miss a game.
On Dec. 12, the WIAA held the 10th biennial Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Sportsmanship Summit sponsored by Rural Mutual Insurance Company at the Holiday Inn & Convention Center in Stevens Point, Wis.
The purpose of this event was to show what Wisconsin sportsmanship can do for the athletes and for those around the state who love the game just as much as the players. This Summit’s goal was to help kick-start plans for member schools to create and implement a safe, respectful, and education-based environment for high school sports.
Over 90 schools were in attendance with 726 students and administrators of 106 teams. With enormous turnouts at the Sportsmanship Summit for the past 10 years, why is it a continued challenge for some students, parents and adult fans to recognize the sportsmanship efforts and expectations embraced by the membership?
Whether or not it is the cool thing to do, it is the right and respectful thing to do.
Many athletes around the state hold themselves to a higher standard when it comes to competitions. Many believe that it is a privilege to be a part of a team as their coaches and parents remind them of it daily. There are high expectations put in place for student-athletes to demonstrate they are peopleof integrity on and off the field.
“Choosing respect off the field whether that be in practice, film, class time, or walking in the hallways with your peers brings respect in games against teams with players you don’t know or see on a daily basis,” Drew Freitag said.
Freitag was a former two-sport athlete for Beloit Memorial High School, as was former high school teammate Kevin Raisbeck, a football and baseball player.
“Sportsmanship was always important for our coaches and team chemistry. We learned how to respect one another and most importantly respect ourselves,” Raisbeck said. “Sportsmanship taught us how to overcome challenges in life and in sport. The sportsmanship I was taught in high school has carried over into my collegiate sport career as well.”
Sportsmanship shows athletes and the fans around them to lead with integrity, gratitude, and respect on and off the playing field. Athletes, former, present, and future, will take the tools learned from the game into all facets of life, and lead with the values that sportsmanship holds.
Maddie Hodge, a native of Janesville, Wis., is a junior English major with a management and media studies emphasis at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. She is a former student-athlete at Janesville Craig High School.