Why Do We Give Out Medals for Sportsmanship?

At i9 Sports®, part of our initiative to keep kids engaged and playing sports long-term includes sportsmanship medals. We believe that sports should teach kids life skills that go beyond the court or the field. In order to reinforce sportsmanship in our athletes, we reward them with a medal when they show one of nine values of sportsmanship such as teamwork, respect, leadership, or determination. 

It’s Not A Participation Trophy

Our sportsmanship medals are often confused for a participation trophy, but that simply is not the case. Teamwork, leadership, and our other sportsmanship values are critical life skills that contribute to a child’s overall development. Sportsmanship awards teach children the essential skills for success in life. By celebrating these values, we encourage young athletes to carry these lessons into their everyday interactions as well as motivate them to continue playing sports. 

Our athletes have to show up and participate to earn their medal, but they also have to show an understanding of sportsmanship. These concepts can be complicated for our younger athletes, but when they get an award for helping an opponent up after they fall or high-fiving their teammate, they understand that it is a sign of good sportsmanship. The positive reinforcement makes them want to keep showing up and keep trying to be a good teammate to receive their sportsmanship awards. Giving them the chance to win a separate award with a different goal, gives them something to work towards in conjunction with winning the game. Instead of 100% focusing on winning, they spend time focused on how they become a better overall athlete. 

Who Receives a Sportsmanship Medal?

We encourage our coaches to give a sportsmanship medal to a different athlete every game. Not every kid will receive a medal every game, but every kid should receive a medal by the end of the season. Sometimes multiple athletes will receive a sportsmanship award at one time, but the medal will still be associated with an act of sportsmanship.

Expanding the Education to Parents

We motivate our parents to help us create a supportive playing environment by encouraging their children to have fun as they learn through our age-appropriate instruction. All parents sign our Parental Pledge during the registration process which essentially states that they agree to show positive behavior during our youth sports games and activities. We also educate our parents on ways they can increase and improve their support for young athletes and how that contributes to their child’s long-term love of sports overall. 

The Overall Outcome

By reinforcing sportsmanship, even our youngest athletes learn to be well-rounded individuals which will help them succeed in all aspects of their lives. The positive reinforcement helps them fall in love with sports at an early age, encourages them to keep playing, and influences them to adopt an active lifestyle as they grow older. 

We hope to create a positive sports environment for youth athletes by setting expectations and showing parents that the best way to show support for younger athletes is to let them focus on having fun, making friends, and doing something they like! By handing out sportsmanship medals and working with parents to help create a positive environment, we inspire kids to play sports longer, become well-rounded adults, and eventually become supportive sports parents to their future youth athletes. 

Two i9 Sports basketball players, girl on the left and boy on the right, holding up their sportsmanship medals that they won for showing an act of sportsmanship during their game.