Parental Support

There are many ways that parents can support both their own children and those on the team.  Work schedules and game schedules make it difficult for many parents to be present at games (especially if they have more than one child).  We make the following suggestions for all parents:

  1. Playing any sport should be fun. It is important for parents to be cheerleaders for their children, praising them for their effort no matter what the results may be.
  2. Generally speaking, the “ride home” after a loss is not the best time to make any comments. It’s best to let the athlete set the direction of the conversation.
  3. Talk to the coach at a time convenient for the coach and ask if there are any ways that parents can support the coach by volunteering at practice or on game day. There may be many ways that the parents can support the coach.  It is very important that parents never be drawn into seeing themselves as “assistant” coaches, unless they are specifically invited to do so by the coach.
  4. Would it make sense to form an ABW Club? If so, parents could take the lead in getting it going. Some parents may want to honor one member of each team for their “sportsmanship” or “effort” after the game.  The “reward” can be anything from a candy bar to whatever idea the parents have.
  5. Always remember, it’s only a game! Games should be fun!

Start an ABW Club

It's great because it includes all sports, boys and girls!

Exploring, Learning and Getting Into the Code

Exercises to make the Code come alive!

What Does The Code Mean?

How can I talk about it? How can I explain why it's important? Here are two documents that can help:

Sportsmanship from A - Z

Written by the Michigan High School Association

Accept and Abide by the decisions of the contest officials. 

Be a good host to opponents and treat them as guests.

Cooperate with the coach, players and cheerleaders in trying to promote good sportsmanship.

Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

Encourage your players to play hard and fair.

Follow the rules of the contest at all times.

Good sportsmanship is the "golden rule" in action.

Hold assemblies before a contest to encourage students to display proper conduct.

Intervene to let others know that inappropriate jokes, racial or religious slurs, taunting, trash talk and intimidating behavior will not be tolerated at events sponsored at your school.

Judgment calls on the part of the officials are not subject to question or discussion.

Know, understand and appreciate the rules of the contest.

Lose without excuses; win without boasting.

Model language and behavior that is non-biased and is inclusive of individuals regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or disability.

Never criticize players or coaches for the loss of a game.

Opposing coaches, participants, cheerleaders and fans must be respected at all times.

Provide opportunities for informing students and adult spectators of their responsibility to uphold the standards of sportsmanship.

Questioning an official’s call or making negative comments about an official is unacceptable behavior.

Recognize and show appreciation for an outstanding play.

Shake hands with opponents prior to the contest and wish them good luck.

Teach sportsmanship and demand that your players be good sports.

Use cheerleaders, pep groups and other student leaders to help develop a sportsmanship program.

Victory celebrations and unscheduled game rallies should not be permitted at events sponsored at your school.

Work cooperatively with officials and other contest personnel for an efficient contest.

eXercise self-control and be a good example for players and spectators.

Yelling, booing or heckling an official's decision is unacceptable behavior.

Zero in on sportsmanship - it's priority number 1!

Developmental Assets

The Code for Living is important because it supports 30 of the 40 internal and external assets needed to promote healthy, positive lifestyles in youth, as determined by the Search Institute.  In 1996, extensive research led the Search Institute to identify 40 essential building blocks of youth development. These blocks, also called Developmental Assets, are essential for children to develop into competent, healthy, and caring adults. The more assets young people possess, the less likely they are to engage in risky behaviors. Youth with more assets are more likely to do positive things that society values. 

Athletes for a Better World promotes the following developmental assets:

Internal Assets: involve the internal strengths, commitments and values young people need to guide their choices, priorities, and decisions.

  • Achievement Motivation
  • Caring
  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Responsibility
  • Restraint
  • Planning and Decision-Making
  • Interpersonal Competence
  • Resistance Skills
  • Peaceful Conflict Resolution  
  • Personal Power
  • Self-Esteem  
  • Sense of Purpose
  • Positive View of Personal Future 

External Assets: are positive developmental experiences that surround youth with support, empowerment, boundaries, expectations, and constructive use of time. 

  • Family Support
  • Positive Family Communication
  • Other Adult Relationships
  • Caring Neighborhood
  • Caring School Climate
  • Community Values Youth
  • Youth as Resources
  • Service to Others
  • Family Boundaries
  • School Boundaries
  • Neighborhood Boundaries
  • Adult Role Models
  • Positive Peer Influence
  • High Expectations
  • Creative Activities
  • Youth Programs

Putting assets into action thru sports:


  • Model positive, responsible behavior.
  • Organize a community service project for your team.
  • Help a younger team in your community.
  • Follow the rules of your team and sport.
  • Help and support your teammates.
  • Thank people when they do something nice for you.


  • Create a positive, safe environment.
  • Help your team set personal goals.  Expect your athletes to do well.
  • Provide many opportunities for youth to be leaders in and contributors to the team.  Allow team members to have a voice in decisions that affect the group.
  • Talk with parents about their children. Point out their strengths.
  • Find out the birthdays of all your team members. Send them a birthday card.
  • Call parents to praise their children when they do "good things" and let them know when you observe bad behavior.
  • Organize a community service project for your team - Let your athletes be a part of the decision-making process when selecting a volunteer project.
  • Invite parents to participate in their child's experience with your team.
  • Take your athletes’ questions seriously.
  • Make sure your athletes know why there are rules.
  • Turn your athletes’ mistakes into learning opportunities.
  • Model positive, responsible behavior.


  • Participate in your child’s athletic program-attend as many games as possible, cheer positively for all competitors, get to know your child’s teammates and families so that you can call them by name and chat with them.
  • Teach your children that there is more to the game than winning.
  • Spend time with children helping them map out their goals. Teach them to plan ahead.  Expect your children to do well.
  • Volunteer with your child's team: organize a service project, help with carpool, provide snacks.  Rediscover your role in helping and teaching young people besides your own children.
  • Volunteer as a family. Let your children be a part of the decision-making process when selecting a volunteer project.
  • Take your child’s questions seriously.
  • Make sure your child knows why there are rules.
  • Turn your child’s mistakes into learning opportunities.
  • Model positive, responsible behavior.

Get The Book

Buy ABW’s complete book on developing character through sports Winning More Than The Game

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