Adapted from an essay by The Positive Coaching Alliance
"I love skating, and I hope you do too. Skating has a long history and is one of the most popular sports in the world. A lot of great things happen on an ice rink. I feel that it is an honor to be involved in the sport. That's why I want to talk to you about Honoring the Game. We’ve all heard about what it means to be a "good sport." What does it mean to you to be a good sport? (Answers may include "play fair," "don't cheat" etc.) Sportsmanship is important, but in order to get the most out of this skating season, I want you to honor the game. The Positive Coaching Alliance has an expression: “Honoring the Game goes to the ROOTS of the matter.” Each letter in ROOTS stands for an important part of any sport that we must respect. The R stands for Rules. The first O is for Opponents. The next O is for Officials. T is for Teammates, and the S is for Self.
R is for Rules
Even though it’s not a team sport, there are rules for skating, or accepted modes of behavior and ways to use the ice. These rules are what allow us to keep our ice time fun, productive and rewarding. Respect for the rules is important, even when it's possible to break them without getting caught. I want you to play by the rules, even if you think you won't get caught if you break them. Breaking the rules dishonors the game, even if it means that we win.
O is for Opponents
Without opponents, we could have no competition. A good opponent makes us do our best. Sometimes your opponents are friends of yours. I want you to respect your opponents, and remember they are out there to have fun just like you. I want you to try your hardest to be best, not because you hate your opponent, but because you want to be your best. I promise that I will show respect for opposing coaches and skaters, and I expect you to do the same.
O is for Officials
It is very important to respect officials including coaches, judges, and all rink employees and volunteers. Often, this can be the most difficult part of Honoring the Game, so we need to remember to keep it as a focus when we play. Officials have been selected and trained to enforce rules and judge competitions, and they have a very hard job. Without the officials classes and competitions would be unsafe and unfair. Officials are not perfect (just like coaches, athletes and parents!) and sometimes make mistakes. However, there is no excuse for treating officials with disrespect when they make errors. I want you to show respect for officials, even when you disagree with the call. I promise to do the same thing.
T is for Teammates
It’s hard to think of the people you skate with as your team, but that’s what they are. Even though you aren’t on a traditional team like soccer or baseball, your classmates and fellow competitors from your rink are your team. I also like to think of all of my XanBoni skaters as being part of my team. Being with your teammates should be fun. Later in life you will often be part of a team, and it is important to learn to work together. I hope you feel a commitment to each other as teammates and that you will agree to always work as hard as you can in practice, competitions, shows and in class. Please encourage and support each other on and off the rink.
S is for Self
Some people only Honor the Game when their opponents do, but I want us to Honor the Game no matter what the other skaters, their parents, coaches or fans do. I want us to be the kind of team that Honors the Game even when others do not because we set our own personal standards. And we live up to them no matter what. We have respect for ourselves and would never do anything to dishonor the game.
So what do we mean when we say that Honoring the Game goes to the ROOTS of the matter? Respect for : Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates, and Self. If you do these five things, you are Honoring the Game. You and your teammates will get the most out of our season, and you will join the great tradition that is skating.