19th June, England v South Africa, 09:30 GMT
The Cricket Foundation is joining up again with Marylebone Cricket Club in 2011 to deliver a nationwide scheme to encourage “fair play” in ‘Chance to Shine supported by Brit Insurance’ schools.
From the start of the summer term, the ‘MCC Spirit of Cricket’ initiative will bring lessons in good sportsmanship to thousands of children in 4,000 state schools. The scheme, now in its third year, will help teach young people how to win and lose graciously when playing competitive sport.
Pupils aged eight to 13 will learn how to play hard, but fair, through a range of activity including: an interactive assembly resource featuring professional cricketers showing the Spirit of Cricket, playing for an MCC Spirit of Cricket trophy to encourage competition in schools. There is also a special competition to win the opportunity to play at Lord's during the England v India Test Match.
The Cricket Foundation and MCC will also deliver 12 MCC Spirit of Cricket summer camps for children across England and Wales. Working through the County Cricket Boards, the camps will be girls only and each of the camps will involve members of the World Cup-winning England women’s cricket team.
Speaking at today’s launch, John Stephenson, Head of Cricket at MCC said, “Wanting to win and trying your hardest is important for anyone playing sport, young or old. MCC’s partnership with the Cricket Foundation highlights the significance of healthy competition whilst discouraging a win-at-all-costs mentality, and aims to ensure thousands of young people adopt the Spirit of Cricket principles of playing hard and fair.”
Chief Executive of the Cricket Foundation Wasim Khan added: “Through the MCC Spirit of Cricket initiative in Chance to Shine schools we’re teaching young people one of the most valuable lessons in life: how to claim victory and accept defeat magnanimously. We want a child to ‘keep a straight bat’, not act like a sporting brat.”
England skipper Andrew Strauss, backed today’s launch saying, “The Spirit of Cricket is about playing the game hard and trying to win, but doing it fairly. I think that’s a good lesson for life. Of course you can cut corners and cheat, or bad mouth your opposition, but ultimately you don’t get as much satisfaction as doing it the right way.”
According to research published today by MCC and the Cricket Foundation, young people find it difficult to lose graciously in sport, while their parents are just as bad.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter labelled us a nation of ‘bad losers’ after the failed World Cup bid, last December, and it looks like he could be right. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of 1,008 parents of children, aged eight to 16, polled say their kids reacted badly to losing. ‘Sulking’ (38%), ‘getting angry with themselves’ (28%) and ‘crying’ (20%) were the most common antics of the young sore losers.
In a separate survey of children aged eight to 16, three-quarters (76%) of respondents say they see similar reactions from their team mates when they lose a game. Sulking topped the list of reactions again, along with ‘getting angry with team mates’ (37%), ‘storming off’ (27%), ‘shouting’ (26%) and ‘swearing’ (21%).
In the survey, one child describes how ‘after I beat somebody, they kicked the wall of the squash court and broke two of their toes’, while another recalls a team mate who ‘if he loses, he starts swearing loudly, then runs away and locks himself in the toilets’.
Parents behaving badly
The sportsmanship lessons come too late, however, for the 60% of parents who admit to being bad losers themselves as children; with 40% sulking and 20% crying after they lost a match. More worryingly, parents today are behaving badly when watching children’s sports, according to two thirds of respondents. They describe other parents ‘mocking opposition’ (39%), ‘using foul and abusive language to referee or umpire (38%), ‘being aggressive’ (32%), ‘using foul and abusive language to the opposition’ (27%) and also ‘towards their own child’ (17%).
Other highlights of the MCC/Cricket Foundation survey include:
Girls are better sports than boys. 83% of males witness bad sports among their team mates, compared to 71% among females;
Two thirds of parents (64%) admit they should teach their kids how to be a good sport, while most children (40%) say their PE teacher is responsible;
Wales has the worst losers. 87% of children say their team mates showed brattish behaviour when they lost a match (compared to 76% national average);
London has the best losers. Less than a third of children (31%) say their team mates were sore losers;
Half of respondents (51%) agree with Sepp Blatter and think we are a nation of bad losers; 49% disagreed;
It’s not all bad news: 96% of parents say their children were ‘gracious in victory’, while nearly three-quarters of children (72%) shake hands with the opposition or with the official in defeat (31%)
Sporting Brat Pack
Despite four out of ten parents worrying that their child would mimic a sportsperson acting like a sore loser, more than two thirds (68%) of children polled say they are not influenced by sporting stars. Only four per cent of children said they would copy a badly behaved sportsperson.
Fortunately, just two per cent of young people think sport stars are responsible for teaching them good sporting behaviour as Wayne Rooney (2nd), Cristiano Ronaldo (3rd) , Sir Alex Ferguson (4th) and Tiger Woods (5th) all feature in the list of ‘worst sporting brats’. John McEnroe came top, with one fifth of the votes, and is still regarded by the public as the worst loser in sporting history after his notorious on-court outbursts.
Meanwhile, Gary Lineker comes top of the ‘Good Sports’ table. Other paragons of sporting virtue include David Beckham (2nd), Sir Steve Redgrave (3rd), Dame Kelly Holmes (4th) and Sir Chris Hoy (5th).
Former England cricketer turned sports psychologist Jeremy Snape, director at performance coaching company Sporting Edge, highlights the importance of staying cool when you lose: “We see people’s true character when they are under pressure whether it’s in losing a match, being dropped or in the heat of a tense battle. Some players have the ability to be fiercely competitive yet remain respectful of the game and those are the players who everyone respects. Once all the statistics have been analysed, the main thing we are remembered for is how we played the game.”