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Sport & Values - A Handbook for Parents - Intro & Chapter 1

Sport is much more than physical activity: it’s reaching balance with the environment, it’s the intelligence to analyse it, it’s growth… And in a world where sport is increasingly important and generates more and more money, we tend to forget that the largest group of people who practice sport are kids. Physical activity has health benefits, of course, but it also contributes enormously to emotional development and to the acquisition of fundamental core values for everybody.

Like in many other aspects of a kid’s life, the parents’ role is vital in making it possible that kids take the good out of sports. Along with parents, the coaches, the clubs and the teammates create the environment that, in optimal conditions, promotes the healthy personal development of the child.

This guide’s main goal is to help parents understand what their kid’s sport life is like and to help them communicate with every adult involved in it, so that their sport experience is much more fulfilling. Part of this process includes discovering those core values that forge our personality.

Sport is a reflection of day to day situations in people’s lives, and the things we learn in it are applicable to daily life. That’s why core values are going to be the guide we will follow through this blog. We’ll talk about them in examples that help us transform sports into a safe and inclusive space. It’s an ongoing process that goes both ways in which both parents and kids enrich themselves through principles like respect, teamwork, responsibility, discipline, coexistence, confidence, and acceptance of diversity.

Besides values and guiding principles, we will also talk about the daily problems that parents run into throughout the sporting life of their kids. How to solve incompatibilities with school, what to do when there’s a lack of motivation or enjoyment, how to interpret violent attitudes… Solving these issues can be hard if we don’t have any guidance or help. In these entries we will offer tools to help make the best decisions.

Sport is the best environment for values to be taught and passed on. These values will help kids grow and handle themselves, not only at this very moment, but also when they are adults, in working and social environments. We offer you the chance to enrich yourselves with this experience and to be an important part of your kids’ sporting life.

Chapter 1 - Sports and Core Values


Values give us the ideals that drive behaviour for a specific situation. Sport is the perfect context to develop and strengthen those values.

The Hernández family is gathered around the TV when Pau Gasol, a famous Spanish basketball player, is interviewed about the upcoming tournament the Spanish National team is going to compete in: “This team has maintained its values for many years now”.

The family’s youngest, Juan, is surprised by this and asks his parents:

- What are values?

- Values are good things people have that they’ve learned through the years – his mother answers.

- And what’s that got to do with Gasol and the National team.

- Well, since teams are made up of people and people have values, teams also have values, qualities and positive things that help them function better – says the father.



  • A complete and whole education consists of linking the learning of knowledge with the passing on of appropriate attitudes and modes of behaviour, both in the personal and the social realm. This is known as holistic education.
  • Holistic education also includes physical activity. In sports we can have experiences that promote the development of these values.
  • As a general idea, the passing on of these values is achieved through dialogue, respect and knowledge of oneself.
  • The best way to promote this learning is offering appropriate role models and leading through example.


- So that means that my team also has values? What values do I have? – asks Juan

- Of course you have them, we all have them. For example, don’t you think things work out for the best when you all get along and help each other out? That’s teamwork and respect, and those are values – the father answers

- You never miss a practice because you signed up to the team and you’ve learned that you can’t skip practices or games, otherwise there’d be no team. That’s commitment and responsibility and those are other values that help teams function better – the mother adds.

- And what other values are there?

- Well let’s see, what do you say if we make a list and choose the values that each of us has?




Do this activity with your kids or other adults. From the following list, or any other value that you might want to add, choose the 5 values with which you feel more identified and that seem the most important in your day to day life (family, work, sport, friends…). Put them in order of importance.









Emotional control




Personal and social development




Setting priorities





Frustration management








Time management



Respect (opponent, teammates, self, referee, diversity…)




Overcoming limits








Compare your list to your children's list or other adults. Odds are they're going to be different, but would you say their lists are wrong? Would they say that about yours? Even better, would you exchange some values on your list for values on other lists?




  • When we choose a team, club or sport for our kids to participate in, it’s important that the values this activity promotes are in line with our own set of values and beliefs.
  • They don’t have to be exactly the same. It’s very hard for two different people to have the exact same list of values they prioritize.
  • It’s actually very normal for a person to change this list throughout their life depending on their life experience.
  • The important thing is that the values your kids learn at home and the ones they learn in their team go hand in hand in the same direction, that they complement each other.
  • Nevertheless, it’s important to not only speak about values, but to also put them in practice. Take your top 5 list and think of situations where your kids would put them to good use. Talk it over with them and put the theory to practice.
  • Why are values so important? Stay tuned for the next blog entry to find out!


Guillermo Calvo has been a basketball coach for 18 years, coaching all age groups from 6 year-olds to adults. He has been the Basketball Director at his club in Madrid for over 10 years.

He has a degree in Sports Science from the European University in Madrid and is currently a professor in the Department of Education at the Antonio de Nebrija University.

He is the co-author of a "Manual para Padres: Deporte y Valores" (A Handbook for Parents: Sport & Values), a guide for parents to help their children in sport.