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Education – the Key to Fighting Doping and Promoting Ethics

Education – the Key to Fighting Doping and Promoting Ethics

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) hosted it’s fifth session of the International Convention against Doping in Sport at its headquarters in Paris late October. The theme of the conference was the education of young sportspersons regarding the danger of using prohibited substances.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova stressed that “The only possible way to fight doping effectively is through education.” and that “the use of performance enhancing substances not only caused serious health problems but also undermined fairness and ethics in sport.” WADA chief David Howman, who was also a speaker at the conference, cited ‘preventative education’ as the key to the progression of clean sport.

Education is an area Bike Pure have championed globally since our inception, paying particular attention to young riders and those who assist them such as parents and coaches. Parents of young athletes play a crucial role in the promotion of ethics and good sportsmanship.

Parents always want the best for their children in sport. But where do parents stop when winning becomes the main priority? Is it more important for your child to learn how to lose with respect, rather than win at all costs? If winning is everything to you and your child then how far are you willing to push the boundaries in order to compete and be successful?

Cycling, just like all other sports, not only increases self confidence in children but through interactions with other kids they form friendships, have fun, learn new skills, and gain great life experiences. One of Bike Pure’s aims to is recognise that sporting potential can only be realised through fair and honest competition, whether that be on or off the bike. This can be shown as a simple handshake – congratulating a rider who finished in front of you. It can also be thanking a fellow competitor for displaying a sportsmanship gesture during an event.

The rewards that come from honest and fair competition build a platform and foundation for all athletes, regardless of their level and discipline. The education of sporting ethics comes not only from parents but also coaches and anyone else closely involved with athletes. The stress placed on our young athletes has never been greater and the list of challenges for them continues to grow. Pressure to succeed is tremendous and this has generated a ‘win at all costs’ mentality, which has permeated into a greater number of sports. From ‘taking a dive’ in football or cheating opponents to gain an advantage – these are becoming more commonplace. Such dishonesty doesn’t have to be a part of sport.

With the advent of sound ethical guidance and honesty given by parents and coaches towards their athletes we can set them on the correct path. Sport teaches us honour and skills; it increases our self-esteem and promotes teamwork. If these elements are instilled early, they provide an ethical foundation for any athlete. Bike Pure encourage parents to help their children find their potential through hard work, integrity and respect. Below we have outlined some actions that will help ensure your child continues to enjoy their sport and how they can become a role model to those around them:-

• Be patient with your child, give them time to learn and develop.

• Realise your child’s needs, vulnerabilities and strengths. As a result of doing so, your child will feel more appreciated.

• Respect your child’s emotions. Showing care and understanding will show that you respect them and in turn will teach your child to respect others.

• Show your child that you care by your thoughts, communications and actions. Doing so will demonstrate you care and that your child knows it, providing a better channel of communication and more open desire to share any problems.

• Teach your child the importance of being true and honest to themselves and others.

• Emphasise to your child that winning isn’t everything, and that simply doing their best is enough. Instead of saying “Did you win?”, ask “What did you learn?” or “Did you have fun?”. Praise their efforts; compliment them on their strong points.

• Remind your child that there is no ‘losing’ or that anything is ‘negative’. Anything outside of winning are things that can be taken as ‘areas of improvement’ – ‘losing’, ‘wrong’, and other similar negative words hold no place in a child’s development. Even winners have areas to improve upon.

• Try not to place undue pressure on your child to win at all costs. If they have natural sporting talent, this will come through and be noticed by senior coaches and/or mentors at some stage.

• Try to encourage your child to socialise with other competitors either before, after or outside sporting events. Socialisation will help them build respect for their opponents and help build strong bonds especially in team sports.

• Try to get involved with your kids’ sport. Engage with the local team or club and be proactive in supporting not only your own child but others around you. Cycling teams are always looking for help at events or with team management. Helping with marshalling at events, constructing a course, handling mailing lists, or simply helping to sign people up at the race all provide a great means to get involved.

• Encourage your child to congratulate the winner and other competitors of their event.

• Ensure your child remains a good sportsman and has that as part of their character through their sporting life.

Show your child encouragement even when they might think that they failed. Help them come up with achievable goals. Even completing an event or setting a personal goal is an achievement in itself and should be praised. Positive completion enables children to discover their strengths and inner talents such as determination and patience.

• Encourage your child to compete fairly and by the rules.

• Research has shown that young kids who play the same sport all year round can become burnt out and even drop out of doing sport all together. Try to encourage your child to participate in a variety of sports, especially during the off season. Diversity breeds enthusiasm and builds skills that will help them later in life.

• Set realistic expectations for your child. Heaping high expectations can lead to extreme stress and can destroy a childs enjoyment of sport. Being supportive will increase motivation and enjoyment.

• Remember, that a child’s first encounter with fairness often comes from the behaviour of coaches and officials at events. Encourage your child to respect and thank officials. You never know when you may need the assistance of an official so if you respect them they will respect you too.

• Lead by example. Parents are role models too, so strive to become a role model for your child.

Parents should do all they can to promote good sportsmanship and ensure children have a solid and ethical sporting foundation that they can carry for their lifetimes. Make being a ‘good sport’ part of your own rules. Sport teaches us how important it is to try hard, even if you don’t win or get a medal. Setting a personal goal or achievement can be far more worthwhile than winning. The basic principle and fundamental ingredient is to enjoy sport. If it is not fun then why do it. The joy of sport is often forgotten in the pursuit of trying to win, or striving for your goals.

Ensure your children are enjoying their sport and not placed under any undue pressure to participate.

Andy Layhe
Bike Pure