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One Bite At A Time

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This is Part 2 in a series by coach, radio host, & author Bill Patton. Click here to read Part 1.

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

We must first endeavor to make a commitment to fair play, and for our children to do the same, then engage with others who have that shared commitment. For those on the fence, we need to bring them into the fold.

As a community everyone can do the following things to help to assure more and more that the player who plays best on the day will win.

Here are some thumbnail solutions to consider. These are fleshed out much more in the book How to End Cheating in Junior Tennis: 21 Ways to Eat an Elephant:

1. Celebrate great sportsmanship. Make sportsmanship the real prize. When we show that we value the player who was the better sport over the player with a better game, this will take us quite far along the path. Find those who also celebrate sportsmanship and band together with them.

2. Pick Your Battles. Do Battle, but don’t do it constantly because then it’s much easier for someone to rationalize not listening. The Squeaky wheel gets the grease, but after a while, it gets replaced. Don’t allow anyone to label your group ‘the complainers’. Also, framing the battle as constructive criticism can be most helpful.

3. Take a step by step approach. Work in your area to either take on larger or smaller problems. If you have already taken on the biggest problem and won, then begin working on the next largest problem that can realistically be defeated. Even with the entire community working together, this problem will be solved by a matter of degrees over time.

4. Don’t Demonize; Empathize. Ultimately, do you wish for the player who cheats to stop cheating and go on to a career of playing well and fair? Of course you do. Take a moment to empathize with why they might be making bad calls. Do they face incredible pressure at home? Is the player’s vision 20/20? When we follow up in a spirit of empathy our chances of success go way up. We want to shed light and bring those players and that family into the light. Some may wish to escape from the dark place of being identified as a cheater.


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