Lodi High School and the Lodi community was awarded the WIAA/Rural Mutual Insurance Sportsmanship Award for outstanding behavior at the State football finals this year. This is Lodi’s first time earning this honor in football and the fifth time overall being honored with this award. We also received recognition for the 2003 and 2005 team wrestling tournaments, for the boys basketball tournament in 2012 and for the girls basketball tournament in 2013. Lodi has also received numerous honorable mentions for this award over the years as well. We take great pride in winning this award as it not only captures our actions on the field, mat, or court but also takes into account our behavior in the stands.

We work very hard at Lodi High School to instill the concept of sportsmanship in our athletes, our student section and our fans. This is not something that has happened by accident, but something that we consistently strive for in every contest in which we participate. We set high expectations for the behavior of our fans in the stands, but just like with everything else in life, we fall short of these expectations from time to time. However, we use these as teaching and learning opportunities for our coaches, athletes and fans. It is by setting high expectations that we are able achieve the desired goal of teaching our students the meaning of sportsmanship and allowing them to practice this behavior on a consistent basis.

This concept is very important to us here in Lodi because the underlying fundamental principle of sportsmanship is important to us, which is to treat people with respect. The idea that we can treat someone differently based on the uniform they wear goes against everything we work hard to teach our students in school. We work to instill the ideal that you treat others with respect, whether they are the same or different from you. Parents would be very upset if we allowed students to show disrespect to each other in the hallway based on the clothes they wear. However, for some, this behavior is perfectly okay if the clothes in question are a uniform from another school. I think we can all agree this is not acceptable at Lodi High School.

Sportsmanship is a constant battle for us as just down the road at the University of Wisconsin you can see the best and worst of fan behavior. You see fans being loud and supportive of our Badgers and their efforts. However, you also see that people take this as an opportunity to be nasty and belittle opponents, officials and other fans. These seem to be the same people who feel that they have the right to be disrespectful just because they bought a ticket. What price do you have to pay for a ticket where you no longer have to treat people with decency and respect?

Our work on sportsmanship and respect at LHS is ongoing. None of us are perfect by any means. However, as Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but by striving for perfection we can catch excellence.” We have proven on several occasions our excellence when it comes to sportsmanship. With renewed focus, it is my hope that our fans will continue to be award winners when in this area. As the sign reads on our gymnasium door, “Sportsmanship Is Always the Right Play!”

This is Vince Breunig’s 17th year as a school district administrator and his tenth year in the School District of Lodi. He is currently the high school principal at Lodi High School.

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