“Manners are the happy ways of doing things; each one a stroke of genius or of love, now repeated and hardened into usage.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My parents taught me two important lessons about manners. First, always say “yes sir,” or “yes ma’am”, and second, always give a firm handshake. They constantly repeated how important good manners were to a good life. Over time, I started acting in the way they expected a young man to act, and my manners hardened with use. Now, I do not even think about these actions because they are so ingrained into how I act. Still, I would not be the person I am today without lacrosse.

As many parents know, you can only do so much watching your child on the sideline. There is always a chance that something will happen adversely to your child. This is not intended to scare anyone, it is just a mention of fact. 

Your son or daughter will face adversity on the field, and lacrosse is a fantastic opportunity for kids to understand the consequences of poor judgment, bad manners, and disrespect. The field becomes an extension of your parenting, and, over time, young children get to refine their responses to adversity. They learn to be respectful and consider the feelings of someone else. Most importantly, they discover that bad manners and poor judgment may feel good in the heat of the moment, but that good manners and smart judgment feels so much better for far longer.

As an official, I represent the integrity of the game whenever I step onto the field. My actions, however small, impact the perception of other people watching, and I try hard to never do anything that would reflect poorly on the game. Good judgment helps me deescalate tense situations. Good manners keeps me from making a situation worse. Whether a coach is giving me grief over a call, a player getting too hot, or a fan getting out of hand, I’ve used every bit of the manners and judgment I’ve learned over the years.

This is the main benefit of youth sports. They allow kids to experience victory, defeat, pride, guilt, embarrassment, honor, sacrifice, pain, and trust in a controlled environment. The NCAA estimates that “eight in 10,000, or approximately 0.08 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic football will eventually be drafted by an NFL team.” Considering that there only nine Major League Lacrosse teams compared to thirty two National Football League teams, the number of lacrosse players going professional are quite low. This should not discourage players from aspiring to play lacrosse at a high level, but I make note of it to explain why we really want kids to play.

The reason is so kids can be put in situations where they must act. We as adults want these young men and women to act properly, even if they are wronged in some way. If they learn to act honorably when faced with adversity in a youth lacrosse game, we can expect them to act admirably when they face tough times as an adult.

 

Gordon Corsetti is the Manager of the Men’s Officials Development Program at US Lacrosse.