Inaugural Kaw Valley League sportsmanship summit features NAIA official
Between the steroid scandal in professional baseball, the pro basketball brawl in Auburn Hills, Mich., and stories of enraged parents fighting over the outcome of their daughters' youth softball games, it has become fashionable to discuss everything that is wrong with sports.
Tuesday night, at Basehor-Linwood High School, the school hosted the first Kaw Valley League Sportsmanship Summit, in hopes of doing its part to improve sports in the KVL area.
The summit attracted nearly 200 coaches and administrators from throughout the district and Kaw Valley League to discuss the importance of sportsmanship at the high school level and how best to ensure that good sportsmanship is exercised by coaches, athletes and fans in all extra-curricular activities.
Those in attendance sat through an hour-long session in which several guest speakers, including Rob Miller of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, Gary Musselman, spoke at length about the code of conduct and expectations of coaches in the league.
Following that, everyone present participated in break-out sessions in which coaches and administrators exchanged ideas on how best to promote sportsmanship in the 2005-06 school year.
Afterward, Musselman said he was excited to see all 10 Kaw Valley League schools taking the initiative to endorse sportsmanship and make it a focal point of their programs now and in the future.
"Clearly, I think the most important thing schools can do through activities is to teach kids to be good citizens so that they can grow up and be productive members of society," Musselman said. "And it is great to see administrators come together and work toward that common goal.
"Sports serve as one of the most powerful teaching venues we have, and there is no better opportunity to positively impact young people's lives. I really believe this meeting is a great start towards that end."
Other focal points at the summit were to define the role of a coach and to discuss Rod Miller's program and outline for sportsmanship, "Champions of Character."
In his program, Miller made it clear that coaches have to be accountable for setting the bar and example for their teams, and understand fully that their actions and the choices they make will hugely affect their teams' behavior and performance.
"The most important thing in coaching is that life lessons are learned," Miller said. "Sports do not teach character in the sports setting, coaches do. A coach must set the standard high and watch their kids reach those standards because they are the examples that guide them there.
"If you do not send the message of sportsmanship, then you allow your players to believe it is acceptable to act otherwise. As a coach, kids will live with your voice. Make sure it is a positive voice."
As for the coaches and administrators who were privy to Miller and Musselman's messages, many agreed it was poignant and certainly applicable in all aspects of the teaching profession.
Tonganoxie athletics director Brandon Parker said he appreciated that the discussion encompassed all KSHSAA activities.
"You go from football to debate," Parker said.
Parker also found Miller's discussion about coaches to be interesting as well.
"He has a good message to coaches about how look at ourselves," Parker said. "How we are versus how we think we are."
Dr. Joe Novak, principal at Mill Valley High School, said he was excited to sit among his colleagues and see everyone in absolute agreement that sportsmanship must be at the forefront of athletics at this impressionable level.
"I thought it was absolutely fantastic," Novak said after the meeting. "I think it was great to see the camaraderie of what we all share and believe in.
"Also, I think one of the most important things we did here today, was to give new coaches the tools to get started."
Miller summarized what appeared to be the sentiment of most attending the forum.
"Sportsmanship is not a passive exercise, it is something that must be continually worked at and will ultimately help us all," Miller said.
To learn more about the Kansas High School Athletics Associations sportsmanship/citizenship guidelines, visit www.kshsaa.org.