What Sportsmanship Means to Us

You hear the word sportsmanship a lot when talking about how players act during a game. But what is sportsmanship really? To us, sportsmanship is more than just the way a player acts. It’s falling in love with sports, treating others with respect, and learning lessons that stick with you outside of the game.

Good sportsmanship is an invaluable life skill that translates to more than just sports. Here are the nine sportsmanship values that we teach in our programs so your athletes walk away with more than just a new hobby and new friends.  

1. Respect  

Respect is about valuing the perspective and input of others. Sportsmanship means recognizing the effort of your teammates and treating them kindly even if you disagree with them.

This goes beyond the game- kids take the idea of respect into the classroom and eventually into their careers. They take the respect they have for other players and translate it into respect for teachers, bosses, coworkers, and others they may run into in the adult world one day.

2. Positivity  

Positivity is about always trying your hardest, no matter the outcome of an individual play or game. Positivity in youth sports is also about encouraging those around you to do their best despite the outcome of a play or game. 

Keeping a positive attitude can make your kids stand out in the classroom or in their career one day. It’s a difficult practice, but once it is mastered, it becomes contagious to those around them and those in leadership roles will notice and applaud this characteristic. Coaches will also find this asset to be one of the best characteristics a player can have outside of physical skill as they get older.

3. Teamwork  

Teamwork is about understanding that everyone on a team is important, and sometimes the  goals of the group are more important than individual triumphs. Success for a teammate is also  a win for you! 

It goes without saying that teamwork is important in any aspect of life. Life can be challenging, being able to work with a team can make it both easier and more fun. 

4. Humility  

Humility is about knowing that while you may have won this game, or scored this point, the  entire team contributed to your success. Sportsmanship acknowledges that while you may have come out on top this time, you can just as easily come in 2nd next time. Growth and effort are what matters. 

Humility teaches the importance of not bragging about all of your accomplishments or using your accomplishments to put others down. Staying humble shows others that you are more than just your accomplishments and that you don’t think any less of someone that hasn’t achieved the same. This skill goes hand and hand with respect.

5. Enthusiasm  

Enthusiasm is about cheering on your teammates, both on and off the field. Coming to practice and games with positive energy and a supportive attitude makes team sports fun for everyone! 

Enthusiasm becomes harder to keep up as you get older and go through different challenges. Much like positivity, having enthusiasm can be contagious and spread to your other teammates, classmates, or coworkers. This is a characteristic that is rare to find as players get older. Coaches and professional leaders tend to gravitate towards those with enthusiasm as they know this type of energy can spread to the rest of the team and create positive results.

6. Determination  

Determination is about being focused on learning and the task at hand. Whether you win or lose, you give your best effort and don’t give up. Youth sports can help teach kids that being  focused on your goals will help get you where you want to be, both in athletics and life.  

Having a student, athlete, or employee under your leadership that shows determination is always a good thing! It means they aren’t just going to give up when something is hard, they’re going to give you everything that they have while they try to master the challenge. They may need guidance figuring it out at first, but one they get it, they are determined to master it on their own. 

7. Integrity  

Integrity is about showing up for your teammates. Being at practice and giving it your best shot every time means you are true to your word and committed to your team. Follow-through is an important part of good sportsmanship. 

Having integrity means doing the right thing when no one is watching. You’re not doing something because you’re told to, you’re doing it because you believe it’s the right thing to do! This goes a long way in sports and in life outside of sports as it means you can be trusted with important tasks and responsibilities. 

8. Inclusion 

Inclusion is about giving everyone a chance, which is what recreational sports are all about! Regardless of ability, we believe every player deserves a chance to play, build confidence, and have fun.  

Inclusion is important in any aspect of life. Being left out is not a great feeling, and as they say you should strive to “treat others as you’d like to be treated.”

9. Leadership  

Good leaders not only set a good example for teammates, they are supportive and determined to help others reach their goals. Being a good leader means celebrating with the achievements of your teammates and not just your own. 

You can take all the leadership courses that you want, but some people have a natural affinity to being a leader. Those are the people we need in leadership roles both in sports and in the professional world. We need leaders to coach our youth athletes into becoming good people, not just good athletes. We need professional leaders to make work a safe and positive environment for all employees to learn new skills and grow their skills.

Although it can technically be taught, learning leadership skills at a young age gives you a natural knack that others may not have. Giving you a better chance of succeeding in those roles and teaching others!


Youth sports are not just about winning or making it to the next level. Youth sports are about having fun, falling in love with sports, and growing as a person. The sportsmanship values you learn during youth sports can carry you through some of the most challenging parts of life. 

Sign up for i9 Sports® to Build Character and Become a Strong Athlete

Every week our coaches focus on one of our nine sportsmanship values. They teach players what each word means and how to show this value during a game. After each game, a different player is chosen to receive a sportsmanship medal for showing the sportsmanship value of the week! Choose a sport, and sign up today.

Boy soccer player on the left high fiving the girl soccer player on the right with both hands. Both are wearing red and black i9 Sports soccer jerseys.