Sportsmanship and Competitive Event Resources

March 30, 2015


Michigan 4-H Youth Development has been working to provide information and training to participants in the 4-H animal science projects regarding sportsmanship.  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.


Michigan 4-H Animal Science Sportsmanship Award

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 of an adult or youth that has exemplified the definition of good sportsmanship in the 4-H animal science project areas, please consider nominating them by October 15, 2023.

2023 Michigan 4-H Animal Science Sportsperson of the Year Award Nomination Form

Want to learn more about a past winner?  A high-quality, detailed nomination allows the selection committee to become more familiar with the candidate. Read sample nomination letters here: Mazich letter #1 and Mazich letter #2

4-H Sportsmanship Activity Series

A series of activities that can be used at club meetings, events or other youth activities to create a better understanding of the concept of sportsmanship and begin practicing important sportsmanship skills.  These activities, just 5-20 minutes in length, are great for club meetings or larger groups.

Developing Real Sportsmanship in a Reality Show World Webinar

Horse shows and competitions can create stressful environments for parents, leaders and youth. Amongst the stress of competition, emotions and the drive to win can take control. During this webinar, Karen Waite, from Michigan State University, will discuss the importance of sportsmanship in the horse show ring.

This presentation is free and provided as a partnership between eXtension Horses and My Horse University. The presentation will be archived, along with previous presentations, at

Judging Question Lists

Competitive events are one way that volunteers, staff and parents can guage the impacts of youth's 4-H project development, as well as their personal development.  The Iowa State University Targeting Life Skills Model and the Experiential Learning Model are key in creating successful 4-H programs that impact youth and can help prepare youth for the evaluation process. Michigan State University Extension staff have developed resources for evaluators, club leaders and staff to utilize to help youth share and reflect about their project experiences.

Questions are divided up in to "Livestock" and "Non-Livestock" formats, however questions are generally transferable between project areas.  The quesitons are broken down by "Head," "Heart," "Hands" and "Health" categories from the Targeting Life Skills Model. The questions in the head portion refer to how youth manage and think about their project; heart refers to youth's ability to relate and care; hands refers to giving and working abilities; and finally, health refers to youth's overall living and being.

Non-Livestock Questions

Livestock Questions



Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at