Nearly everyone is familiar with the Golden Rule, the principle of treating others the same way you want to be treated. At Tonawanda Dance Arts, we believe that good sportsmanship for our competition team dancers begins first and foremost with this principle. But it doesn’t stop there!
Our team students are learning to expand upon good sportsmanship both at the studio and at competitions as part of the Tonawanda Dance Arts culture. Tapping into this deeper degree of humanity means that our students are developing their empathy and their integrity, qualities that will continue to serve them no matter what direction life leads.
These are the five guidelines we use as our compass for establishing successful sportsmanship:
Treat everyone on the team with respect: Even though some friends on the team may be closer than others, everyone deserves to be approached with a smile and a helping hand. Our team members know they are expected to cheer each other on, because it’s the kind and right thing to do.
Be openly friendly to other teams at events: Not every team will take sportsmanship as seriously as we do, but we want our dancers to know that we expect them to approach everyone they meet at a competition in a friendly and polite manner—a simple smile can go far in making someone else’s day.
Agree to rise above any negativity: Whether negativity bubbles up from inside our team or an outside source, it’s important to us that our dancers learn how to squash it by removing themselves from the conversation and focusing on the task at hand. We are teaching them to hold themselves and each other accountable for keeping the negativity out.
Offer compliments to other dancers and teams: Giving compliments to others is an easy habit to build; it just takes practice! We want our dancers to feel comfortable expressing kind words to others—and being gracious when they are the recipient.
Remember that being kind is always right: We’re teaching our students that competitions are an excellent example of the real world. Sometimes we encounter awesome people; other times people aren’t so nice. No matter what, we always have the option to act with grace and compassion.
For our competition team students, practicing good sportsmanship benefits not just their dance experience but their life experience. These habits spill over into all areas of their lives in a way that cannot be measured. It’s the feeling of that impact—and the knowledge that they’re making a difference—that tells you they get it. And what a humbling and profound feeling that is!