Good Manners and Sportsmanship - Important American Values

For the last few Sundays, my pastor has been talking about relationships and family.  During one sermon, he noted the five things below that we learn from our family and shared Deuteronomy 6:7 with us.
1.       What to do with feelings
2.       How to handle conflict
3.       How to handle loss (and losing)
4.       What values matter most
5.       How to develop good habits

Child's Placemat Showing Good Table Manners
I think the teaching values and good habits helps with the other three.  Children used to be taught how to share, to be considerate of others, and of course good manners.  Being a good sport and congratulating the win team even when you were the loser was also taught.  We valued each other and respected other’s property.  Can we still say that today?

I can recall a time when my dad went to help someone work on their house.  Most of his children were there help by fetching items and otherwise staying out of the way.  During the day, we were given lunch by the people whose house my dad was working on.  We kids were politely asking please, saying thank you or your welcome during the meal, as well as yes sire and no mam throughout the day.  On the way home, my dad said how proud he was of our good manners and that the home mentioned them too.  It made us feel good that our mom had taught us how to behave in the home of others.  She did this by practice at home and reinforcing the preferred behavior at family gatherings and events outside the home.  For my mom, good manners were a true sign of respect for others.

Manners are not a generational issue; manners are a social issue. Recently I saw an example of generations at my local community center.  In front of me in the sing-in line was a Dad and his teenaged child.  The Dad signed in and to the receptionist he said “Basketball, please.”  He was given a ball, he said “Thanks.” and went into the gym.  Then his child signed-in, said simply “Basketball,” took the ball without saying anything else and walked into the gym.  (Before anyone gets sexist and thinks “That is how teenage boys are…” the child was actually a girl.)   For societal view, you may want to read Smart Company magazine’s Why Manners and Courtesy are Vital for Successful Sales, Businesses and Societies.  For more of a business view, you may want to check out Is the Era of Incivility Going to Destroy American Business?

Now I will transition from manners and basketballs to the related topic of sportsmanship.  I also remember when contests and sporting events had winners and losers.  Now that only seems to exist in professional sports. Now, everyone gets a trophy for just showing up, so who was the winner?  What does that teach children about handling loss and being a good sport?  How do they learn to handle their emotions or manage themselves during conflict?  If everyone is always a winner, then what happens when they do not get a scholarship or a promotion later in life?

I know there are still parents out there teaching their kids to say thanks and please.  I have seen and heard them tell their children “What do you say?”  I have also heard parents say (and read on Facebook) how proud they were when someone complemented their children on their good behavior or excellent manners.   Would the world be a nicer place to live if we all could learn to practice good manners? I think YES!  Teach children manners at home so they have that as a habit and you may not have to remind them to do so outside the home.  Teach children how to handle losing and you may not experience whining when they do not get all that they desire later on.

Even if you may not share my thoughts on manners (and if you have good eyesight), you may want to check out this blog post, Five Reasons Manners are Important with quotes from Clarence Thomas and Emily Post.  You may also want to visit this home skills website and read How You Benefit from Proper Etiquette to see why manners are important for every generation.

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