Fort Worth, Texas,
03:04 PM

The World Cup

Sportsmanship's the goal

Are you ready for some football?  Or should I say fútbol? Or futebol?

Maybe, you prefer soccer.

Maybe you don’t prefer it all, but you probably won’t be able to avoid it. Especially after the U.S. men’s team early success.

Regardless of how you pronounce it, the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ will most likely be the most watchedmost socially active sporting event in history.

You will see the greatest, most skilled soccer players in the world competing for their respective countries. And, hopefully you will see sportsmanship. Even as the United States competes in what is affectionately known as the “group of death.”

If you follow soccer, from the local select teams to the World Cup, you know that soccer fans and players can get a little … unruly. So, it’s probably unrealistic to not expect the occasional skirmish over the next month.

But even Pope Francis asked for players to play “in a spirit of true fraternity.”

“We could all be winners if we learn the lessons that sport teaches us, strengthening the bonds that unite us,” he said.

That goes for us parents too, when we are watching our kids play soccer or any other youth sport for that matter.

Joy Crabtree, a licensed psychologist at Cook Children’s Urgent Care and Pediatric Specialties in Southlake, knows a thing or two about how fans treat athletes. Her husband, Tim, pitched for the Texas Rangers. Fans pay their money and have the right to boo or cheer. But they need to think about the people around them too, especially the little folks in ear shot.

“I think at sporting events, fans need to respect the players and players need to respect the fans,” Crabtree said. “This point is even more important when we are talking about kids who are the players. Obviously, adults need to set the tone and demonstrate a good example of sportsmanship and leadership. Kids are not only more sensitive to criticism, but typically more reactive as well. It’s not fair to children to put them in that position.

“As a parent, I certainly don’t want my own children to be in a negative environment either and witness poor sportsmanship. Adults have to take the lead in setting a positive tone and not let competition override common sense.”

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