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By Travel Medford | 11/30/2022 | Sports

SPORTSMANSHIP: THE BEST GIFT YOU CAN GIVE THIS WINTER SEASON

As we transition from fall sports into the winter sports season, let us all remember that we have a responsibility to promote a safe and inclusive environment for our young athletes to compete in. There are many ways that we can each do our part in this effort, the easiest of which is to simply Know Your Role, and to help remind others of theirs. As we all head indoors to get out of the rain and enjoy some athletic competition, let’s make a conscious effort to ensure that we check our unsportsmanlike behavior at the door.

Here in Southern Oregon, the Know Your Role message has become an intricate part of our athletic programs. Whether you attend a middle school, high school or even college sports event, you will most likely see a flyer, banner, or reminder to Know Your Role. Athletes are encouraged to respect their opponents and the officials, while coaches are asked to demonstrate respectful interactions and communication, and to be a positive example for their athletes. Spectators are reminded to keep it in perspective, release their players to the game, and to realize that officials have a tough job, too. Without our officials we wouldn’t have any sporting events in our area, and while they make mistakes and errors at times, the important reality is that if there’s no ref, there’s no game. Know Your Role is providing schools and teams with the tools necessary to help all those involved to do their part to improve the safety and culture of youth sports.  Our community has had less cancellations and rescheduled games related to referee shortages than any other region in the state and have experienced an increase in new officials each season.  We feel this is a direct result of our current officials feeling safe and respected.

Despite our area’s overall efforts, there are still those sports struggling to find new officials, and unfortunately, there still seems to be those spectators and participants who feel the need to “give the ref a piece of their mind.” There simply is no place in for this sort of behavior. Teams should remind their members and families often of the Know Your Role guidelines, and share with them the video assets, flyers, stickers, and other materials available to them. Participants, regardless of if they are spectators, athletes, or coaches, should thank the officials for their time when the opportunity presents itself. A simple expression of gratitude rather than disdain can be difference in whether an official returns for the next game, or season.

The Southern Oregon Sports Commission invites you to Know Your Role this winter sports season. Reach out to your league and team officials, educate yourself on the program, and then pass that information and knowledge onto someone else you know. As we each continue to do our part, we will move even closer to accomplishing our goal; cultivating a safe sports environment for all those involved. For more information regarding Know Your Role be sure to visit www.travelmedford.org/know-your-role.

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