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    Be Civil, Be Competitive

    The Springfield Missouri Sports Commission has teamed with other sports entities in Springfield to promote civility in sports by encouraging participants to Play Hard, Play Fair & Play Sports.

    Part of the Springfield-Greene County Civility Project,  The Be Civil, Be Heard campaign’s mission is to increase effective engagement in Springfield-Greene County by creating a more welcoming and respectful environment where all people’s views are encouraged and heard.  Ten tenets of civility include:

    • Be Attentive: Live with awareness toward others and your surroundings.

    • Acknowledge Others: Greet people, ideas and values with respect.

    • Be Inclusive: Recognize and welcome all people every day.

    • Listen: Seek to understand by concentrating on what people say.

    • Respect Other Views: Respond to different opinions with a fair and open mind.

    • Speak Out With Courage: Express yourself with honor and conviction.

    • Act With Compassion: Treat others with kindness and honesty.

    • Give and Accept Constructive Feedback: Consider criticism thoughtfully and factually.

    • Treat Your Environment with Respect: Show regard for nature, resources and shared spaces.

    • Be Accountable: Acknowledge mistakes and take responsibility for your actions.

    In Sports, we are encouraging healthy and competitive and civil competition in our community which makes Springfield a great place to work, rest and play!  Be Civil, Be Competitive. 

    Fellow committee member and Springfield-Greene County – Jordan Valley Park Manager Jeff Cumley wrote a great piece on the importance of civility as it relates to sports and sportsmanship.  The essay was featured in the Springfield News-Leader:

    BE CIVIL, BE COMPETITIVE, by Jeff Cumley

    Sports.  They provide us with physical and mental development.  They teach us about winning and losing.  Some sports let us compete with teammates and some give us an opportunity to compete individually.  Sports provide jobs to the community and serve internationally as an important economic driver. 

    Unfortunately, sports can also occasionally bring out the worst in its competitors and fans.  Far too often we are seeing participants yelling and cursing at their coaches or referees.  We see coaches yelling and cursing at referees.  Parents in the stands are yelling and cursing at referees, coaches and other fans.  "Officials are going to make mistakes in their calls, just as athletes make mistakes during their performance.  That is part of the game.  Unfortunately, I have witnessed many situations in which parents have belittled or berated officials and opponents at athletic competitions.  That is simply unacceptable" says Lori Endicott-Vandersnick, two-time Olympian in volleyball.

    Is it really acceptable to yell and curse at a referee or umpire at your eight year old child’s game? Absolutely not.  Is it really worth it to yell at your six year old daughter’s coach because you don’t think she’s getting enough playing time?  Absolutely not.  Is it acceptable to yell obscenities at an opposing fan at a high school game, college game, or even pro game?  Absolutely not.  Not ever.

    At that point, what are we teaching our children, to grow up and act just like us?  Instead, I propose we teach our kids how to be competitive yet civil at the same time.  Let’s teach our kids that it’s okay to compete.  In fact, it’s okay to be very spirited in that competition.  It’s okay to win.  It’s okay to lose.  Teach them how to deal with both and then prepare for the next game.

    These lessons will “institute a set of core values not only in the athletes but in the people that attend the games as well. These values transcend the playing field and are applicable to everyday life” says Grant Wistrom, retired NFL star.  They will learn how to act in their places of business when confronted with a disagreement.  How long would they be employed if they react as they were taught at their sports games?  They need to learn how to have a constructive discussion, state their side, listen to the other side, work though to an ending point and professionally deal with the outcome.

    Let’s give our children constructive feedback during their sports experience.  Let’s give them positive reinforcement and provide them with the opportunity to practice and get better.  Only about one percent of athletes ever make it to the professional ranks.  That means the rest are there to recreate, get healthy, learn and grow into productive adults.  Let’s make the most of the time they are playing and competing and teach them to be the kind of adults we all want to interact with some day