Honoring the Game by Respecting our Opponent

Last month we kicked off the season long Honor the Game – Respecting the R.O.O.T.S. campaign by exploring the RULES.  Hopefully, you took a few minutes to give the Soccer America-“Think you know the rules” quiz a try.    This month we continue to explore the ROOTS with ways to Respect our Opponents.

Aretha Franklin sang “R_E_ S_ P_ E_ C_ T, find out what it means to me.”  What does it mean to us?  Do you believe that someone’s actions can earn respect, tarnish your respect, or cause you to lose respect?

Tennis great Roger Federer was once quoted “I fear no one, but I respect everyone.”  From the no-name first round opponent to fellow top-ranked and well-known finalists, Federer values the hard work, determination, and abilities of each opponent he faces. There is a humility and honor in his words. Do you give that kind of respect to everyone you compete against?

Here are some easy ways for players and players to make Honor the Game by showing respect to our opponents.

Easy Steps to Honoring the Game by Respecting our Opponents!


  • Remember: without opponents, there would be no game at all!
  • Like YOU, the other team’s players have practiced hard, want to compete and have FUN, and are looking to improve
  • Play Cleanly and Fairly-never look to intentionally harm another player
  • Acknowledge exceptional players or plays from the other team
  • Win and Lose with Class


  • The “other” team is not the enemy. Just as you are out to watch your child play soccer, so too are the opposing team’s parents out to watch their kids. The only difference between sides here is the color of the jerseys.
  • Avoid making negative comments about players on the other team. Always remember that these are kids, not paid professionals. Negative comments can be hurtful to the young player as well as their family.
  • Be courteous. Keep interaction with parents on the other team as healthy and positive as possible.

10 Ways to Respect Your Opponent from Liberty Mutual Insurance – Play Positive and the Positive Coaching Alliance

  1. Pre-Game Hand Shakes – Respect your opponent’s right from the start. Shae hands before the first whistle blows and wish your opponent good luck.  Maybe even exchange pennants or banners as a sign of respect.
  2. Huddle Up for Sportsmanship – As the team huddles before the game, coaches and team captains can remind everyone that you’ll be playing fair, playing by the rules, and respecting your opponents.
  3. Play by the Rules – Respecting your opponents means playing fair and playing by the rules. Honor the game by abiding by those rules and graciously accept penalties when you break them.
  4. Pick Up Your Opponent – Your opponent falls, or a hard foul may knock them down. Be the first to outstretch your hand and help pick them up.
  5. Cheer, Don’t Jeer – During the game, cheer for your team in a positive, encouraging way and don’t jeer, boo, or demean the other team.
  6. Take Out the Trash – Respecting opponents means refusing to trash talk. That means no fighting words, insults, profanity, ribbing, teasing, or challenges. Let your play speak for itself.
  7. Thank Opposing Players – End the game with High Fives and “Good Games” for your opponent. A good opponent helps bring out your best-thank them for that.  It’s a privilege to play against them.
  8. Thank Opposing Coach – Coaches are a big part of any team. Respecting your opponent means not only the opposing players, but also their coach.  Thank the opposing coach for preparing their team to give you the opportunity to compete.
  9. Handshakes in the Stands – Fans should get in on Good Sportsmanship too! Shake the hands of the opposing team parents and fans, saying “good game” and thanking them for cheering and supporting good sportsmanship.
  10. Reward Good Sportsmanship – Want your team to demonstrate good sportsmanship and respect opponents? Then reward that behavior.  Provide a post-game reward to the player who demonstrated great sportsmanship and honored opponents

Click HERE to view slide presentation of this information

More on Respecting our Opponents 

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