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Stop Playing the Blame Game

Girls Left Out Due to Bullying

No one likes to lose, especially when they feel like they gave their all and that they deserved to win. And while some players beat themselves up over a dropped pass, a missed kick, or a bad at-bat, other athletes look to play the blame game and pass the buck over to their teammates, the coach’s plays, the official’s calls, anyone else except them. 

It can’t be my fault! It was their fault that we lost! 

Now, sometimes it really is your teammates or coach or official that made a mistake, but getting in the habit of blaming other people for your losses is not the lesson we want to teach our youth athletes.

If your teammate did make a mistake, support them through it.

Let’s say your son plays quarterback and one of his receivers drops a pass that would have resulted in a touchdown. Chances are that receiver feels plenty bad about his mistake, especially if the win was on the line.

Berating that player and rubbing his face in his mistake isn’t going to change the score, and it could impact that player’s confidence so much that the next time he’s on the field he is too nervous to perform well. You make mistakes, your teammates make mistakes–but you are a team and that means you support each other no matter what. Try not to let anyone’s mistake drag the whole team down. Just move onto the next play.

Officials aren’t perfect.

Believe it or not, NFL referees can even mess up something as simple as a coin toss. And if these professionals can make mistakes, you can bet that Little League umpires and Pee Wee football referees are going to blow calls as well.

Yes, it is incredibly frustrating to have a call go against you, but getting into a argument with the official, or having a temper tantrum on the sidelines, isn’t going to undo the call. You can be frustrated and upset, but try to not take it out on the official.

Chances are they know when they mess up, but you can’t really undo a call without causing an uproar from the other side. One official on LinkedIn pointed out:

About 3 years ago, I was umpiring a 10 year old playoff game and working solo. Last inning and the team had the winning run at 3B with 2 outs. Grounder to third that was bobbled and then thrown to first. I was behind the plate and went partially down the first base line and made the “safe” call. For whatever reason, I was not comfortable with my safe call that allowed the winning run to score. There was this very strange reaction by both teams. I could see it and I could feel it in the air. I ended the season for a 10 year old team because of my missed call. I guess my point here is to remind everyone that nobody is perfect and that I’m still bothered by my missed call.

Don’t forget, you’ve made some blunders of your own.

No athlete, even at a professional level, is perfect. Everyone makes blunders big and small sooner or later. How would like to have it rubbed into your face or have your team whispering behind your back about it? Remember, treat others the way you would want to be treated. Playing sports teaches young players a lot about themselves–they learn how to work as a team, how to put in the hard work to succeed, why practice is important to growing, and how to handle a loss while keeping their heads up.

Playing the blame game undermines all the positive things that youth sports has to offer and it is the last thing we want our kids to walk away believing is acceptable.

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