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Lose the game but not your sportsmanship
Jake, Steve and Tom Young surround Steve's fellow ESPN commentator Trent Dilfer. In front are Tom's twin sons Luke and Max. The look on Max's face is one of hero worship so Sherry Young is glad Trent is a great man. - photo by Sherry Young
The Golden Rule is a credo for daily living espoused by many religions and world cultures all through the ages. Sometimes termed the ethic of reciprocity, it basically means treating others like we want to be treated.

In our ever increasingly competitive world, honesty and fairness can be rationalized away and left to the wayside, especially in sports.

We may never really learn what happened with the recent deflate-gate. The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl this year in spite of the controversy, but in the minds of some an asterisk will always hang over that win because, among other things, in 2007 they were caught illegally videotaping the Jets coaches defensive signals, termed spy-gate.

Because of the money sports teams engender, there is pressure to perform at the highest levels, but like the old adage goes, cheaters never win. Just ask Lance Armstrong.

When our older sons were young, their football team was the Dallas Cowboys and their favorite player was Roger Staubach. When those sons were able to meet Roger, they found him to be a good and decent human being. Our son Steve has been able to share time with him on many occasions and considers him a friend.

I am ever grateful to the man for remaining a hero to my sons in the true sense of the word. It is important to watch the role models our kids choose to emulate because when they put on a jersey with the name on the back, they are also watching what that person does and how they act.

As adults, we are supposed to teach the younger generation ethics and sportsmanship but there seem to be leaks in the dike. Just go to a Little League game sometime and listen to what is coming out of some of the parents' and coaches' mouths. Watch some of the body language, as well.

I recall standing on the sidelines when our son Jim played lacrosse and hearing mothers from both sides yell, Hit him with your stick, hit him with your stick.

Have you ever watched an event where a parent is calling out constantly to the youth or, if he or she make a mistake, going over and reaming them out? I have.

I've learned to appreciate the only time I ever saw Grit go out on the field. It was during a baseball game Steve was pitching at Stamford High School. They were good hitters and the balls were sailing over his head. Our team was way behind but the coach didnt take him out, so Steve began kicking the dirt and slouching around.

Hes really got his dauber down, Grit said, and he stood up and walked out to the mound to tell Steve this was just a game and to finish up what he'd started. Grit reminded him of the old adage, "It's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game."

The main purpose of youth sports is to teach sportsmanship, which is respecting yourself by playing your best but following the rules and respecting your teammates, your opponents and the officials.

In an article for USA Today, Nancy Armour wrote about Jackie Robinson West who won the U.S. Little League title. She wrote how the adults added players by gerrymandering the boundaries and got caught. The players are paying the price for the adults who skirted the rules.

In the article, Armour wrote that as far as the players, "they were encouraging of each other and respectful of their opponents. They celebrated their wins as if they were the greatest moments of their lives and accepted their losses with dignity.

Sometimes kids have a few things they can teach adults. One of them is that they are vulnerable and we need to help them learn life's lessons, not by cheating, but by playing fair.
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