How often do your hear sporting fixtures, particularly those in the younger age groups, have been spoiled by the behaviour of those involved, either actively or in a watching capacity?
It's a frustrating trend worldwide but, in Wairarapa, at least one organisation is doing its bit to spell out what is expected from those who fall into any of those categories.
Netball Wairarapa have developed specific Codes of Conduct for spectators, players, parents and coaches and have placed them around their Colombo Road courts and on their website in the hope they will be digested and acted upon. They are written in simple, easy-to-understand language and are aimed at children as well as adults.
Administrator Jo Day said the Codes of Conduct were nothing new in that they had been put in place some years ago although they were "tweaked" last season when intimidation became a problem, on and off the courts.
"We felt we needed to remind people of what is expected of them and from what we have seen so far this season the message seems to have got through," she said.
A brief resume of the codes is:
SPECTATORS: Children play organised sports for fun. They are not playing for the entertainment of spectators only, nor are they miniature professionals. Applaud good performance and efforts by your team and the opponents. Congratulate both teams on their performance regardless of the game's outcome. Respect the official's decision. If there is a disagreement, follow the appropriate procedures in order to question the decision. Never ridicule or criticise a player for making a mistake during a competition. Positive comments are motivational. Condemn the use of violence in any form, be it spectators, coaches, officials or players. Show respect for your team's opponents.Without them there would be no game. Encourage players to play according to the rules and the officials' decisions. Demonstrate appropriate social behaviour by not using foul language, harassing players, coaches or officials.
PLAYERS: Play for the "fun of it" and not just to please parents and coaches. Play by the rules. Never argue with an official. If you disagree, have your captain or coach approach the official during the break or after the game. Control your temper. Verbal abuse of officials or other players, deliberately fouling or provoking an opponent and throwing equipment is not acceptable or permitted in any sport. Be a good sport. Cheer all good players whether they are on your team or the opposition. Treat all players as you would like to be treated. Co-operate with your coach, teammates and opponents. Without them there would be no game.
PARENTS: Focus upon the child's effort and performance rather than the overall outcome of the event. This assists the child in setting realistic goals relating to their ability by reducing the emphasis on winning. Encourage children to always play according to the rules. Never ridicule or shout at a child for making a mistake or losing a game. Remember children are involved in organised sports for their enjoyment, not yours. Remember children learn best from example. Applaud good play by both teams. Recognise the value and importance of volunteer coaches. They give their time and resources to provide recreational activities for the children and deserve your support.
COACHES: Teach your players the rules of the game are mutual agreements which no one should evade or break. Avoid over-playing talented players. The "just average" players need and deserve court time. Remember players play for fun and enjoyment and winning is not the only part of their motivation. Never ridicule or yell at players for making mistakes or losing competitions. Develop team respect for the ability of opponents as well as for the judgment of officials and opposing coaches.