Fair season and sportsmanship

Follow these sportsmanship guidelines so youth and adults have positive experiences at the county fair.

It’s fair season, and that means youth will be competing at county fairs and animal shows around the state with their 4-H projects. Let’s review some sportsmanship guidelines so that all youth and adults have positive experiences at the fair.

Good 4-H animal project sportsmanship is defined as:

  • Displaying respect for animals. This mean exercising good animal management through proper healthcare and nutrition, as well as fair training practices. Animals deserve humane treatment in exchange for what they provide.
  • Displaying respect for opponents. Sportsmanlike competitors recognize and appreciate a well-prepared, challenging opponent who can bring out the best in them and share that appreciation with their opponents.
  • Displaying respect for the “game.” This includes respecting and following the rules of the event. It also includes always trying one’s best, using skill and training to achieve positive results and appreciating the training process.
  • Displaying respect for others. Judges, show managers, parents, trainers, coaches and leaders deserve respect as well. If one is feeling frustrated, it is important to find an appropriate location and time to vent or show this frustration.

Exhibiting good sportsmanship is not just for youth 4-H members – it applies to everyone involved, including volunteers, parents, leaders and others.

Starting in 2015, Michigan 4-H Youth Development will be awarding a Michigan 4-H Animal Science Sportsperson of the Year Award. If you know an adult or youth that has exemplified the definition of good sportsmanship in any of the 4-H animal science project areas, please consider nominating them by filling out the nomination form by Oct. 1, 2015. 

To learn more about how 4-H teaches sportsmanship and builds character, contact your local Michigan State University Extension county office to find a 4-H program near you.

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