Wednesday night’s NBA game featured Golden State’s Kevin Durant going forehead to forehead with Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook. The heated exchange on the court resulted in both players receiving technical fouls for their behavior.
Then there was the NCAA basketball matchup between Alabama and Minnesota. Trash talking led to multiple technical fouls and ejections. So many, in fact, that Alabama was left with only 5 players to play the remaining 10 minutes. That is, until one player fouled out and another left with an injury – leaving Alabama with only 3 players to finish the remainder of the game.
Trash talking occurs at all levels of sports. While it can sometimes be harmless, it’s never healthy or helpful.
Parents can help tackle trash talk in kids with some key reminders.
Remind kids that playing sports is a time to have fun, compete with friends and learn new skills. That’s what their opponents are there for, too. Respecting the other players, coaches and fans by avoiding trash talk makes the game much more fun for both sides.
Actions speak louder than words.
Tell your kids their performance in the game is what matters. Let that be enough. Taunting and talking a big game does nothing. In the same way – kids’ behavior during intense competition speaks volumes about their character. Talking trash and putting others down doesn’t make a child look good – as a person or a player.
Keep your head in the game.
It’s easy for kids on the receiving end of trash talk to become frustrated and lose focus. Staying mentally tough in the midst of trash talk by opponents takes discipline and practice. Working with a personal coach can help kids learn techniques to keep their head in the game and not let the trash talking distract them.
Model good sportsmanship.
As we know, kids learn by example. But while the pro athletes they see on TV are generally bad role models when it comes to talking trash, you can be a positive example. Show good sportsmanship while cheering and interacting with other fans to model how respect is played out in sports.
Teach from TV. Watch sports on TV with your child to give a lesson on how not to act. Point out how silly NFL players look when they taunt opponents after getting a first down or a sack, even though their team is down by 3 touchdowns. Show them how it costs the team when an NBA player gets a technical foul. Or better yet, pull up a video clip of last week’s Alabama/Minnesota basketball game to show just what can happen when the whole bench gets ejected. A winnable game for Alabama instead ended up as the team’s first loss of the season in a crazy 3 on 5 finish.