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May 18, 1995

We are at that time of year when Perry Kids softball and baseball games are the talk of every neighborhood in town. If you don't have kids or grandkids playing on one of those teams, you must surely know some players or families who are deeply involved with the great American pastime at some level.

So perhaps this is a good day to share some pertinent thoughts on sportsmanship, something we all need to bear in mind -- not just the parents as spectators at any sporting event. The following "Ten Commandments of Parents of Young People in Sports" are passed along by my neighbor, Bob Henry, a certified member of the Oklahoma Officials' Association. They originally were prepared by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, which oversees sports and other events in all state certified schools. Here are the commandments:

1. Make sure your children know that win or lose, scared or heroic, you love them, appreciate their efforts and are not disappointed in them.
2. Try your best to be completely honest about your child's athletic capability, their competitive attitude, sportsmanship and skill level.
3. Be helpful but don't coach them on the way to a game or on the way back, or at breakfast, at dinner, and so on.
4. Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be out there trying, working to improve their skills and attitudes.
5. Try not to relive your athletic life through your children in a way that creates pressure.
6. Get to know the coach so you can be assured of his/her philosophy, attitudes and ethics.
7. Don't compete with the coach.
8. Don't compare the skill, courage or attitude of your children with other members of the team.
9. Always remember that children tend to exaggerate, both when praised and criticized.
10. Know that it is worth all the effort when you hear your youngster say, "My parents really helped. I was lucky."

There you have them. Bob didn't ask me to do this, but you might consider this an 11th commandment for all of us:

11. You have the right as a spectator to question an official's call, but try to be civil about it and remember that the poor guy is only human, just like you. (And for Pete's sake, don't ever boo the kids for ANY reason. No matter what they do, they don't deserve that.)

Now get out there and have fun, parents and fans!