Sportsmanship When Having Lost

by admin on November 13, 2013

My children have been participating in chess tournaments for a while now. When they enter one, we plan to stay for the entire event; we don’t bail 20 minutes early (before the awards) if they didn’t win one that day. MANY MANY parents do this! (“Oh, you didn’t win – let’s go.”) I’d put the parents who leave early if their kids didn’t win something into eHell, since it’s not sending the kids a good message. I’d consider it bad sportsmanship. Whether my kids win or lose, we stay until the end and applaud the winners. It’s not as fun for the winners if the crowd of 300 dwindles to 40 just before the awards. I understand that people are busy, but it’s only 20 more minutes, and these are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. events — 20 minutes isn’t _that_ much longer. It certainly doesn’t make my children feel badly to stay for the awards if they didn’t win; if anything, it encourages and excites them — “Someday that will be me!” They have come home after not winning and started working hard so they could win next time — and then they actually did win the next time, so it was a good life lesson all around.

The tournaments I am talking about are in our town, where everyone lives less then 30 minutes away from the site. But last year, our family went to a tournament in a city 90 minutes away, and yes, we still stayed to the end, even though my children didn’t win anything. I wouldn’t have felt like they had fully participated unless they had attended through to the end. Same goes for music competitions — we stay for the awards no matter who won (or didn’t). I just think it’s good form. And they DO get joy from applauding their friends. Many other parents seem to agree — we have a crowd of “regulars” who always stay to the end and cheer for each other’s kids — they all have their winning days and not-winning days, and they take it all in stride.

What do you all think?

(And these awards go 1st to 5th place, per grade level K-12, so about 60 awards are given out to 300 kids. It’s not like it’s just 1 award for 300 kids!) 1111-13

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

SC November 13, 2013 at 4:58 am

I would say that it’s good form to stay until the end when possible.

The only competition I can recall leaving before the end was in college; an archery competition which was scheduled to run 9-3 on Saturday & Sunday that was an hour drive away. Things ran a bit behind schedule Saturday, but not too badly. Sunday, the organizer had completely messed up and they were running so far behind that they tried skip the scheduled hour lunch break. After enough people complained the women’s group was delayed half an hour so we could run out and grab some sort of food, but we were due for an hour’s break which everyone needed after 3 hours of shooting! I ended up picking up sandwiches for a couple random guys who I’d met that day, in addition to all my male teammates. They got to try to eat in between rounds (generally 1-2 minutes at a time while scoring was finished).

At the scheduled finish of 3pm, we were nowhere near the end of the shooting, and it had started to rain (the event was entirely outdoors, with no shelter provided). When the last of the teammates who I had carpooled with finished their part of the individual competition around 4pm, it looked like the shooting would go on for at least another half an hour, and then the awards ceremony would *start*. At that point we thanked the organizer and left, since we all had homework to get done, and my teammate who was still recovering from bronchitis wasn’t doing all that well outside in the rain. We later heard that the awards ceremony had run until 6pm, and the park rangers had actually locked the gates by that point so they had to be called to let people out!


NostalgicGal November 13, 2013 at 5:01 am

It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game… goes the quote. Staying for the awards even if you aren’t in the running is part of it. Seeing it out to the end. Congratulating those that did win. And as you said, reinforcing encouragement for the next time.

I can see if you came a long long ways, the parking and traffic are going to be h*ll and leaving early because of logistics is one thing. As OP mentioned, it’s rather local, and there shouldn’t be an issue (waiting 20 min for awards to finish up and the furthest out is another half an hour; one should stay. If it was two hours yet because of schedule, and/or at least a couple hours of drive, and waiting will mean hitting rush hour gridlock… yes, in that case I could see a leaving early). If it’s at all possible to stay though, DO SO.


whatever November 13, 2013 at 6:01 am

Where does one draw the line? I’ve been to local competitions where my team finished 1 or more *hours* before the event officially ends and the rankings are announced. (We are done so early because we are a strong team and frequently at least place in these competitions.) What we typically do in that situation is thank the organizers for a lovely event, socialize with them and other early finishers for about 1/2hr, and then leave. Is that rude?


Comradde PhysioProffe November 13, 2013 at 6:16 am

I don’t think it’s such a big deal, especially considering that it’s both a regular event and 8AM – 3PM is *long*. It’s nice that some stay every time, but I wouldn’t consider it rude to leave when the games are finished.


o_gal November 13, 2013 at 7:32 am

I agree with others that it’s not rude to leave and not stay for the awards ceremony if you did not win anything. As long as you leave without interrupting others, or making any kind of a scene, you are OK. Sure, it would be *nice* if everyone stayed, but it is not rude if everyone does not.


lkb November 13, 2013 at 7:32 am

I applaud the OP for staying and his/her point of view. It’s a wonderful life lesson for the kids and it’s the true meaning of sportsmanship.


I’ve been to my share of awards ceremonies when the teachers/coaches/scholarship donors etc. feel obligated to make a 10-minute speech about how wonderful everyone did, thanking the facility and its staff (appropriate, yes, I agree), their own mothers, the team mascot etc. When it’s a large event, can’t something be said to the presenters to keep it brief? Or perhaps the award can be given at the end of the final competition when everyone is present anyway so we don’t have to sit through every.single.award.from. (Yes, I exaggerate, but not by much in some cases.) And really, does every single kid have to receive an award “so they feel speshul”? Do they all have to receive their individual trophies by name at the ceremony?
I’ve seen some ceremonies where it’s so bad the kids themselves don’t want to attend, even if they’re getting the award.


The Elf November 13, 2013 at 8:08 am

I think it is polite, good sportsmanship, and a valuable lesson to the kids to stay until the end. However, I can see the argument for leaving early. It seems that parents these days are exceptionally busy and overscheduled. I honestly don’t know how you all do it. So if they have multiple events stacked on that day – or even just errand running! – leaving earlier would enable the family to make the second event or get more things done. Or, it could be as simple as beating traffic. Around here, where we have some of the worst traffic congestion of the nation, 20 minutes is the difference between stuck in traffic for an hour and breezing home.

So, good to stay, but not necessary and understandable that they don’t.


AS November 13, 2013 at 8:25 am

It is nice to stay back and applaud the kids win. But you don’t know the circumstances that prompts people to drive back before the awards ceremony. I’d not judge them for wanting to go back. There are other ways to teach a chill to accept defeat gracefully – like for example, congratulating the winner, not throwing a tantrum, etc.


Jazzgirl205 November 13, 2013 at 8:39 am

This isn’t a competition with awards, but it’s almost the same thing. The music school where my dd had lessons had a Xmas concert in which they encouraged all their students to participate. The problem was that most did sign up – even the kids who only had lessons for 2 months – which added up to 70! Another problem was that the music school did the concert with the newer students first gradually working their way up to the more advanced. This meant that there was about 2 excruciating hrs of students playing carols on scratchy violins and squeaky saxophones. Only the last hr consisted of students who could actually play a real piece of music. Had the school interspersed the advanced with the beginners, it would have been a much better concert.

Unable to put up with the torture any longer than they absolutely had to, parents left with their children as soon as they were done. This meant that the students who had worked hard on truly difficult pieces played to a considerably smaller audience. Anyone who has ever performed for an audience knows how daunting it is to perform to a room full of empty chairs.


Carol Ann November 13, 2013 at 8:43 am

They’re not storming out in a huff because their children lost; they’re leaving because they probably have other things to do. I agree that it’s nice to stay, but not necessary.


Lo November 13, 2013 at 8:44 am

I’ve never participated in anything competitive so I’m not sure what formats there are and how the time is allocated. I guess it depends entirely on how long the event is and what’s scheduled for the day.

But as a rule it seems that if a parent has time to watch their kids win an award they ought to make time to watch other kids win an award. After all, isn’t part of the competition seeing and applauding the winners?


Abby November 13, 2013 at 8:47 am

With the way people overbook themselves, I think it’s more of a question of efficiency than poor sportsmanship. They might have plans that evening and think, wow, an unexpected hour to go home and relax before we move on the next thing! Or maybe they have a younger child at home and they are paying the sitter by the hour. You never know. Of all the things that could land someone in Ehell, this wouldn’t even make the top 1,000.


Anonymous November 13, 2013 at 8:51 am

We had this problem at concerts when I was in high school, and played in the band there. A lot of parents would leave after seeing “their” musicians play or sing, even if the concert was still going. Our teachers tried to mitigate this by having the senior band play at the end, followed by a song sung by everyone in the department, and this helped somewhat, but at most concerts, the beginning students still got a bigger crowd than the advanced students. So, it happens at non-competitive events too, just because people are impatient, and focused only on their own child, and not the group as a whole. A similar thing happened in university–third year students typically partnered up and each played a “half recital” (I didn’t, because I decided early in the year that it’d be easier to prepare a bit more music than to co-ordinate with another person, their accompanist, etc.) Anyway, a lot of people thought nothing of going to only half of those recitals, to see *their* friend perform. So, if Jimmy and Jane were sharing a recital, then Jimmy would perform first, then intermission, then Jane would perform the other half. Typically, this would mean that Jimmy would get to perform for a full house, and Jane wouldn’t, because the start time of the event would be announced, but not the start time of each person. I thought this was unfair, because both people had worked equally hard. When I brought it up, I was just told, “Oh, well, people are busy.”

Anyway, yes, OP, the behaviour you describe is rude. Good for you for teaching your kids patience, empathy, and good sportsmanship. 🙂


Jinx November 13, 2013 at 9:09 am

This is difficult. I’m sure that some people are able to leave quietly, and that they have babysitters to get back to, and errands to run…

…but there is no way for, say 260 people to leave politely (“the crowd of 300 dwindles to 40”).

Don’t get me wrong, there is in no way I would want to stay, heck even when I was a child and I *had* won, I wasn’t that big on awards ceremonies. But how many people, or what percentage, can leave quietly before it becomes impolite?

I think, barring some emergency, that it is rude and disrespectful to leave an event early (especially if you would plan on staying if you had won an award). I mean, if you are really against the idea of winning/losing and awards, and wouldn’t stay even if your child won an award… I guess that’s something to think about, but it still doesn’t take into account the rest of the people there.

Etiquette is usually not selfish in nature, and more about making sure you don’t inadvertently offend people. I don’t think there is any history, etiquette has ever supported someone leaving an event (wedding, award ceremony, a play) early unless there was an emergency.

Again, don’t get me wrong, because I didn’t even want to attend those things, that’s how much I wanted to avoid them (“Mom, can’t they just mail me my award?”) . I am absolutely the person who sometimes has wanted to leave weddings early because I’m bored, leave musicals early to get out of the parking lot, and simply run in and out of some parties because I have things that need to be done. Don’t cast me into the flames, yet, though, because I don’t do that, as much as I want to. I think even my friends/family would be annoyed if I did that with any frequency, so I’m sure total strangers wouldn’t be amused.


Shoegal November 13, 2013 at 9:11 am

I have mixed feelings. On one hand, sometimes people exit church right after communion because they don’t want to stay for the final blessing. Mass is basically over – but it is not completely over. We are talking maybe 5 more minutes. I have left early if I have to be somewhere – but this isn’t that often. Some people just leave to leave. I think it wouldn’t kill them to stay.

On the other hand – I have gone to dance recitals, hockey banquets etc. where my nephew and nieces participate in and it can be a little much if your child isn’t the one honored. Especially the dance recital. My niece danced early on in the recital – her number was minutes long. I was there – I applauded – I enjoyed seeing her dance. But there were countless dance routines going on before and after from the many different classes the dancing school offered. I’m talking hours and hours and hours of dance routines where I sat watching other people’s kids. The school wanted all the children to stay till the end and walk out on stage while the graduates of the dancing school all made speeches and the school gave them awards. I would certainly stay for my niece but she wasn’t graduating. Although I didn’t have a pressing engagement can you blame me if I didn’t want to spend an entire day sitting in a dark theater watching this?!?! I don’t think it is wrong to leave in that situation.


acr November 13, 2013 at 9:43 am

A 7 hour chess tournament?! I would be WILD to escape by that point. I see your point about staying until the awards are given being good form, but 7 hours is a looong time. Especially if the awards part involves any sort of speech, etc.

I think you are going above and beyond to stay until the end – and your children are learning an excellent lesson. But after 7 hours I just can’t call the other parents rude for leaving. As long as everybody is being polite during the matches and both losers and winners are gracious, then I call it good enough. I don’t think etiquette obligates anybody to stay just to provide an audience for the kids recieving awards.


Jay November 13, 2013 at 9:49 am

I’m not sure I could stay for 60 awards to random kids I probably don’t even know at all.


AE November 13, 2013 at 9:52 am

The music recitals, oh boy can those be drawn-out and torturous.
I appreciate that all the children at each level have worked very hard to do their very best, but it is terribly excruciating when it’s a LOT of beginners at once.
The most practical thing I’ve seen was instead of one mega recital, a music school I know broke things up into smaller groups for back-to-back recitals of about with a half-hour break between so people could depart and arrive. Some groups had the absolute beginners through intermediate. The others had intermediate through advanced players. They shuffle the intermediate players so sometimes they follow the beginners and sometimes they precede the advanced students, but never both.
It’s important for kids to see others playing at different levels so they can get a sense of their own progress and to make goals, but forcing everyone to sit through hours of earnest but unskilled playing is kind of cruel.


amyasleigh November 13, 2013 at 10:24 am

With the OP being mainly about chess — I am likely prejudiced, by reason of being a disliker of chess (I know how to play, I just find playing the game, anaesthetically boring). I have the impression (compounded no doubt, by my hating the game) that “chess people” tend to include a bigger-than-average proportion of the socially awkward / etiquette-blind / plain obnoxious. One thinks of Bobby Fischer, who was no doubt brilliant at what he did, but — to put it mildly — not an easy person to get along with. Or the long-ago chess champion from the USSR — I forget his name; but though stellar at winning chess games, he was not pleasant to know: used disgusting personal bodily behaviour, as a ploy to put his opponent off his game.

Would thus tend to think, re anything concerning chess: don’t expect too much good-behaviour-wise, from anyone concerned with the game in any way; and regard as a pleasant bonus, decent conduct on the part of anyone involved. I don’t mean offense to the very many perfectly polite and civil chess-players that there are out there: it’s just that the game has — whether deservedly or not — a name among non-chess-lovers, for tending to attract boors.


Huh November 13, 2013 at 10:36 am

I can see both sides as I’ve done both, stayed for the awards ceremony/other performances and left after my kid was done.

Yes, you should stay to see the awards ceremony or to see everyone perform. However, some of these events are scheduled for way too long, which makes no one want to stick around for one more minute than they are required to. And sorry, to me, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. events are CRAZY long. Yes, I know it’s only 20 minutes more, but after spending 7 hours straight at one event, I’d want to head for the door as soon as I possibly could. I have severe crowd phobia (I have struggled with this from the time I was a small child) and sometimes my coping strategies work and I’m OK and others I cannot stand it FOR ONE MINUTE MORE. Just hearing about your crowd of 300 makes my skin crawl.

Before my oldest switched schools, she was in a music program that held a concert/awards ceremony. It was grade school through high school students, two bands and two choirs, and after each playing or singing at least 5 songs, they did the lengthy awards ceremony. They made sure everyone had to stick around because the kids were required to sit on stage for the entire 3-4 hour program. This was a school night and I’m sure a lot of homework didn’t get done that night – they wanted kids there an hour early to prepare, and then didn’t let out until around 9:30 p.m. – so we literally went through a drive thru after work/school, went straight back to school and were there until time to go to bed. So while it wasn’t an all morning/afternoon event like the OP’s, it sure did create havoc on everyone’s schedule.


Jewel November 13, 2013 at 10:39 am

I do agree that it’s rude to leave early based on how the event is currently organized. That said, six hours of competition plus the award ceremony plus the commute back home is a little much to ask of everyone. Perhaps the coordinators should consider breaking up the day by age/grade/competency level with the award ceremony for each level immediately following. That way, people could leave when their level of competition is over without committing an offense against the rest of the competitors.


mark November 13, 2013 at 10:54 am

I don’t see any problem with leaving early really as long as you can do it with minimal disruption to everyone else. A lot of groups do these mass recitals where they have sometimes dozens of groups perform and your kid who you came to see (let’s be honest the cuteness of other kids butchering a song or a dance runs out after a while.) is done in 10 minutes but now you are stuck their for another 2 hours. I have other things I want to do than watch other kids to perform for two hours. If the event is reasonably short, in my opinion about an hour or less, I will gladly stay for the whole thing and actually enjoy it.

In the case of a chess tournament, if my kid or one of his friends didn’t win an award I would probably leave unless the awards part is kept mercifully short. (5-6 minutes)


Raven November 13, 2013 at 11:08 am

I think if you can stay, you should, whether little Johnny won anything or not. It is a good lesson in not just sportsmanship, but the reminder that the universe doesn’t revolve around you, and that it is important to be supportive of other people.

Truthfully though, I can see that in some cases it just wouldn’t be possible, and I would hope then that the parents would at least usher the children out quietly and onto their next activity.

I danced competitively for years, and we always stayed for the awards (whether we won anything or not) unless we had somewhere else to be, like another appointment or something. It was a bit boring, I guess, but if nothing else, it was a good lesson in sitting still.

Also, to those talking about parents leaving concerts – shame on them, seriously. Again, if they absolutely must must must leave (back to work, or something) then they should be seated or standing at the back of the room, where at least their exit won’t be obvious. Yes, sitting through kids’ concerts is irritating/boring/hard on the ears sometimes (ok most of the time lol) but suck it up, really. It’s that kind of behaviour that helps teach kids that no one matters but them. Ugh.


denise miller November 13, 2013 at 11:12 am

Sitting through 60 awards would be excruciating. Even if your child is being honored. I don’t think people leaving early necessarily equates to poor sportsmanship or bad manners. Especially if we are talking about a Saturday afternoon.

What we don’t know is if those leaving have siblings. Perhaps brother is participating in soccer and leaving means they can make part of his game too? And we also don’t know if anyone winning is part of the group leaving.

We do cheer competitions. They split the day into sessions. It’s still a long day, but after each session (broken into age group and skill level) awards for that session are given. Which, if you only have a child participating in one session, cuts your day from 8 hours to 3. If that child has younger siblings who are sensitive to noises, hate sitting still or their parents backs cannot tolerate another moment on bleachers, it is amazing.

Not everyone wants to get baby sitters for half the family when the other half is going to a competition of any type. Weekends are family time, it’s precious and honored. If my child is done at 10, I do not know that I would want to stay until 3 to watch 60 other kids get an award. That’s a lot of time
to keep a child as young as 5 (I’m assuming based on your K-12 statement) entertained.


Library Diva November 13, 2013 at 11:13 am

Shoegal, my husband’s young cousins used to do dance recitals like that. It always sounded like the 7th ring of hell to us. One year, one of them started at 6 or 7 and went until after midnight! I agree with the OP that it’s rude to come to things, watch your child perform/compete and then bang out. But it’s also rude of event organizers to be that demanding of people’s time and attention. When you hold a five-hour dance recital for children from elementary school age on up and encourage entire families to attend, you’re asking for this to happen. Grandparents, younger siblings, and adults with health issues may not be able to sit still that long, stay awake that long, and go without food or drink for that long.

I think that OP is teaching her children good values and should be commended for that. Except for the scenario I described above, the “leave early” syndrome also drives me crazy. I’ve attended concerts and watched people leave the moment the main pieces were over, not even sticking around for the encore. I’ve gone to ball games and watched people leave at the top of the ninth “to beat the traffic.” I just don’t understand it.


Roslyn November 13, 2013 at 11:18 am

Some of these comments make me think of that scene with Clint Eastwood in “Heartbreak Ridge” where he says “You can rob me, you can starve me…and you can beat me and you can kill me. Just don’t bore me”

Wow. I can’t be bothered to be bored to watch your kid, but you have to be there to watch mine. I can’t have little Johnny sit there and be sad that he didn’t win, that hurts his feelings.

The only time when we left a music concert early was because we absolutely had to. The school put every single grade in a concert in one evening, on a work/school night. We stayed as late as we could, but I’m not even sure how long it went. it started at 6 pm and we had to leave at 9 pm with a 40 minute drive home. Getting up at 3 am for work sucks, but some people don’t work 9-5 and staying out isn’t an option.

The following year it was different, the various music groups, band and chorus were broken up and the grades were then broken up into two separate nights. Those concerts we were able to stay to the end, because they were more reasonable with their times.

These parents are simply teaching their kids that there is “somewhere more important to be”, and then it leads to adults who don’t RSVP etc because what if “something better pops up”. Catch 22.


Allie November 13, 2013 at 11:30 am

If I needed to leave as quickly as possible for some valid reason, I would make a point of letting people know and apologizing on the way out. I usually enjoy staying until the end of things and would feel bad about leaving early. Is it rude to leave early? Not necessarily. It’s the attitude that gets me. Also, I bet some of the special snowflakes have to be whisked away lest they see someone else getting attention and accolades and it makes them feel bad. If you’re bold, the next time you hear someone say they’re leaving because their kid didn’t win, you could excitedly tell them the awards are the best part and they don’t know what they’re missing.


girl_with_all_the_yarn November 13, 2013 at 11:34 am

The only time I recall leaving an event early was a speech meet where the coach suddenly noticed that we were all acting funny. Did I mention this meet took place during a season where the flu shot largely didn’t work, in one of the hardest-hit areas with the flu? Oh, and there had been a shortage of flu shots so not everyone could get one anyway…

All but one person on the team had come down with it. Apparently they cancelled the awards ceremony anyway because whole teams were dropping like flies.


Rap November 13, 2013 at 11:45 am

“The music school where my dd had lessons had a Xmas concert in which they encouraged all their students to participate. The problem was that most did sign up – even the kids who only had lessons for 2 months – which added up to 70! ”

Ugh my school insisted on the occasional “all school” concert. It was a small district – maybe 1000 students from k-12 and the “all school” concert was 3-4 grade chorus and band, 5-6 chorus and band, junior and senior high in order. To combat parents of younger kids leaving when done, the music teachers had the ahem “clever” idea of having all the choruses learn and sing one song, which of course would be performed at the end of the show.

Now 3-4 grade chorus and 5-6 chorus was a *mandatory* class whereas junior and senior high chorus was an elective so there were about 300 kids between 8-12 and about 30 teenaggers in jr and sr high chorus apiece. Jr and Sr chorus folks actually had to learn parts, while the kiddies simply had to line up and shriek the words. All thru the seperate choral and band performances, the parents of the younger kids are giving us all the hairy eyeball because they have to sit thru “all that crap” (that comment was given to my mom who kindly noted to the parent who said it that no one wanted to hear his tone deaf little monster shout either) and were thoroughly ticked off by the time the three hour concert ended.


Dee November 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm

It’s certainly more polite to stay than to leave but there are occasions I have left before the awards – often during school events, and particularly during political events, as both of these can be so biased towards the “pets” and “friends” that it is both sickening and demeaning to the others. I do try to teach my kids to applaud their friends but when everyone else gets an award but your own kid (seriously, EVERY other child in the class) then it is unfair to ask the child to sit through these things time after time. But assuming that the ceremony is not biased, as it would appear to be the case in terms of OP’s letter, then there are few good reasons not to stay.


babaran November 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm

There is no reason for anyone to attend an award ceremony for people you may not know. Nor does that person getting the award care if some random stranger saw them get an award or not. I see nothing wrong with leaving, good etiquette does not require attendance at an event that you no longer have a part in.


EllenS November 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I think there is a big difference between finishing your events *hours* before the award ceremony and leaving because there is nothing to do but hang about waiting, versus skipping the last *20 minutes* of a day-long event just because your child will not be receiving an award. I think skipping the awards in such a short timeframe, is self-centered, a demonstration of poor sportsmanship, and a poor example of friendship. I see a lot of instances where 20 minutes of someone’s time would make a HUGE difference to someone else – hospital visits, for example, or writing a brief letter of congratulation or condolence. If children are taught that such a brief wait is a terrible inconvenience, I can’t imagine how they will learn to be generous with the small gestures of kindness that make life better for others in good and bad times.

In the first instance, if it were *hours* of waiting, I would probably leave whether I/my child was receiving an award or not. That is really a poor setup for anything to do with small children.


OP November 13, 2013 at 12:43 pm

OP here!

I think one person hit the nail on the head — I have NO problem with individual people leaving; it’s that the crowd decreases dramatically before the awards, and there’s a sense of, “Hey, where did everyone go?”. The awards are very very quick – 5 minutes tops, no speeches, just “Thanks for coming! For 1st grade, 5th place is Joe, 4th place Wendy, 3rd place is Tom, 2nd place is Sarah, 1st place is Jane. For 2nd grade, 5th place is Betsy, etc.” They hold applause until the end, so it’s just as fast as 60 kids can walk up as their names are called. They’re all sitting right there in front of the parents, so it’s really 5 minutes. There are no parking issues or anything… parents simply say (aloud) to their kids, “Oh, you didn’t get anything, let’s go.”

I think it’s nice if they can stay to show appreciation for the winners’ efforts. So yes, not “eHell,” but I felt like submitting this here and didn’t know how to term it. Just “bad form” I guess. Perhaps the coach can add to the announcements a clarification that everyone is invited and that he hopes they can stay until the end.

Oh, kids who are there at the end of the awards can pick up a participation ribbon on their way out, so they do “get something” anyway if they stay. 🙂



Calli Arcale November 13, 2013 at 1:03 pm

It’s definitely good sportsmanship, although it’s fair to duck out early in some cases. When I was in college, our quiz bowl team got eliminated fairly early on, and the team we’d caravaned with had made it to the finals. The finals wouldn’t actually start for several more hours, and we were facing a six hour drive home. So we decided to not wait for the other team and leave early, so we wouldn’t be faced with a long drive through the night — we pulled into home around 6PM, while the other team didn’t get back until well after midnight.

That sort of situation is exceptional, and I think understandable. But twenty minutes? Yeah, you stay, and cheer on the others. Kudos, OP, for teaching your kids good sportsmanship!


WendyW November 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm

It depends on what is expected. DD swims competitively and some meets can last 2-3 days, up to 12 hours a day. It is the norm for kids to leave when they are done, nobody thinks twice about it. If there is an award ceremony after ( some meets have them, some don’t) it’s usually only the kids who placed who stay, and even then there are often empty spots on the podium from kids leaving early.
While it’s nice for the non winners to stay and congratulate the winners, we gave witnessed some horribly gloating winners, which can sour the mood just a badly as a poor loser.

So I vote that as long as it’s done quietly, leaving early is not rude.


Rosie November 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Tough call, and I think it would depend on the specifics of the location and the event. It sounds like the OP has found a way to do it that works for his/her child and family, and found some other families that like to do it that way also. But if 80% (260 out of 300) of the kids are leaving before the awards ceremony, I think that’s a pretty clear indication that the majority of families don’t value the awards ceremony after a long day of competition. Maybe there’s a way to restructure the awards ceremony, or make an announcement at the beginning of the day encouraging people to stay, or maybe families just have other priorities and they are ready to leave for whatever reason. Maybe try offering food or other bribes to people who stay if it is really important to have an awards ceremony, but ultimately it may be too difficult to turn the tide at these specific events if 80% of people typically skip out.

I participate in a fair number of running events with a local club, and they have an awards ceremony after most races. Although I’m a middle of the pack runner and by no means the fastest, there is still a significant gap, from 30 min to an hour depending on the race, between when I finish running and the awards ceremony starts. Sometimes I stay, especially if the weather is nice, there is post-race food to eat, they are having a raffle as part of the awards ceremony, or I’ve actually won a ribbon, but just as often I leave. There’s a mix of people staying and leaving, and I’ve never felt like those leaving were exceptionally rude or unsportsmanlike.


Sara November 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm

This submission caught me by surprise. I’m a runner and compete in many local road races (mostly adults) and have never thought it was rude to leave before the awards. The awards ceremony is often quite a bit later than the end of the race (because often the award ceremony doesn’t start until after the last person finishes the race). I usually (but don’t always) stick around for the awards ceremony if I’m getting an award, and don’t if I’m not (unless the award ceremony happens pretty quickly). This is standard behavior among the runners I know. I have never felt in the slightest way offended (in fact, it’s never even occurred to me that leaving is offensive) when I won an age group award and others didn’t stick around.

After races, people usually mill around talking to people for awhile, getting race refreshment, and enjoying the camaraderie of the other runners- then people disperse. It is during these after race conversations that runners congratulate those who’ve done well (not just received awards, but had personal record times, etc.) As an athlete, I don’t consider leaving before the awards ceremony bad form or displaying unsportsmanlike conduct. We’re all busy and have other things to do on weekends.


just4kicks November 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm

My three oldest have been involved in baseball/softball since they were barely as tall as the bat. My husband has also coached the boys teams for many years. The downright dirty shenanigans exhibited by some parents, players and coaches over the years have left me flabbergasted. Please don’t get me wrong, my kids and husband are certainly not perfect, there have been a few instances of heated words exchanged over the years. There was one championship game that comes to mind where one of my kids hit a grand slam to take the lead and win the game. There was a few minute debate with the umpires, and the ball was deemed “fair” (one of the coaches on the other team challenged the call saying the ball was “so foul, it stank to high heaven.” Ump’ s called it fair, we win! Glorious ending to a hard fought team and my son who hit the ball was met at home plate and carried off the field by his teammates. We were, as a team, all just so proud of all the players for their hard work and ultimate win. The team that lost was called out for their second place medals. The entire crowd (both teams families) were on their feet, hooting and hollering. Then….our boys were called out to receive their first place medals….the grins were ear to ear and many of the parents had proud tears in their eyes. As the announcements of the boys names and positions were being said over the loudspeaker, the ENTIRE losing team, coaches and families up in the bleachers all simultaneously stood up and TURNED THEIR BACKS to the field where our kids were getting their first place medals. Our boys were devastated and our parents were speechless. It ended up being a good lesson for our team how NOT to act!!!!


Shalamar November 13, 2013 at 3:17 pm

This is reminding me of when our daughters were 5 and 3, and our older daughter’s class was participating in the annual Christmas show. Because she was among the youngest children, their part was shown first. My husband and I had originally intended to watch the whole show, but our younger daughter started getting very fussy, and we knew we had to leave lest we disturb other audience members.

So, we got ourselves out of the auditorium as quietly and discreetly as possible, and we went down the hall to fetch our other daughter from her classroom. She was happy enough to see us, but her teacher was NOT. She barred the door and said “Go sit down. The show isn’t finished yet.” We said “We know, and we wanted to see it, but (Younger Daughter) is tired and needs to get home.” The teacher repeated “Go. Sit. DOWN. You can come get (Older Daughter) after the show.” We had to almost strong-arm the teacher out of the way so that we could leave!

With 20/20 hindsight, I regret not getting a babysitter that night – but it was our first Christmas show at the school, and we hadn’t realized how long it would be. Ah well.


just4kicks November 13, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Should have been “glorious ending to a hard fought GAME”….Sorry.


Marozia November 13, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Well done on teaching your kids patience and sportsmanship, OP!
Not everything goes to plan, but that’s life!


mark November 13, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I guess I have to differ with some of you I don’t see it as rude or unsportsmanlike to leave early. My time is valuable. I’ve got stuff to do and places to be. If it is truly only going to take 10 more minutes I’ll usually stay, but if it is going to drag on. I’m going to leave.

I think it is unreasonable to expect someone to devote 2-3 hours of their afternoon to watching someone else’s kids compete/play/perform/dance/whatever and their kids part is only 5 minutes. When the event is well planned and goes only and hour or so, I don’t mind watching the whole event. These long events are usually designed this way for the organizers convenience and not the participators/spectators convenience. And that’s fine, but the corollary of this is you shouldn’t expect anyone to hang out for the whole thing. It’s fine to do your part and leave.

But an event from 8 am to 3 this chess thing. That’s my whole Saturday at that point. If my kid got knocked out of the event at 10 am or so, I’d be gone. To be totally honest I would only attend part of the event anyways. Chess isn’t exactly a spectators sport, and SEVEN hours in hard uncomfortable chairs would probably keep me from standing up straight for a week.


Katy November 13, 2013 at 3:40 pm

I used to be a swimmer. There were times when we would have an all day, 7am- 7pm, swim meet. A couple times my last event would be at 2 in the afternoon. The awards weren’t given out until 6:30 or later. Even if I won a ribbon, I would often leave and let my coach give it to me later.
I get that it’s polite to stay, but sometimes that’s a LOT of downtime, and after a quiet, 7-hour day of chess, I’m sure some kids have energy, or they’re hungry, or tired, and they don’t want to stick around to watch forty other people get awards.


Katy November 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Oh, and I’ll add those swim meet award ceremonies were some of the longest, most tedious events I’ve ever sat through. Four strokes, plus the medley, 3-6 different race lengths for each, plus the team relays, time six or seven age groups equals bring a novel, you’ll be here a while. I never begrudged anyone for leaving.


acr November 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm

“Also, to those talking about parents leaving concerts – shame on them, seriously. Again, if they absolutely must must must leave (back to work, or something) then they should be seated or standing at the back of the room, where at least their exit won’t be obvious. Yes, sitting through kids’ concerts is irritating/boring/hard on the ears sometimes (ok most of the time lol) but suck it up, really. It’s that kind of behaviour that helps teach kids that no one matters but them. Ugh.”

My thought is that teaching children they are “entitled” to an audience, no matter their skill level, is just as bad if not worse.

The reward for winning a chess tournament is the satisfaction of winning. The trophy is just a bonus. All that is required of the loser is to say “congratulations.”

My mom took adult dance lessons for several years, and I went to her recital. The school taught mostly children – which means I spent 3 hours watching elementary school age kids stumble around in cute costumes. Like another poster said – it got old. I was over it by the 3rd group. Each year there are a handful of graduating seniors who get to do a senior solo. These young women have been dancing for 5, 10 or more years. They have worked hard to become skilled. And they are STILL not owed my attention.

We should not be teaching our children they are owed the adulation of strangers. Working hard and doing well should be it’s own reward. The more i think about it, the more I feel that expecting those who didn’t win to stick around for no other purpose than to provide an audience for the winners is extremely entitled.

If the vast majority of people are leaving before the awards ceremony, the organizers need to look at their format.


Thistlebird November 13, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I second what the OP said at the end! Basically the way I break it down is based on giving the benefit of the doubt:

– if you’re leaving *only* because your kid isn’t getting anything, that’s kinda rude
– if you have another good reason as well (need to be somewhere, beat traffic etc) it’s not rude
– we don’t know the reasons of individual strangers (unless we overhear them)
– but when the crowd thins out by 80% we can be pretty sure some of the people are being rude! And it does make a difference to a kid how big a crowd there is to see them get an award, yeah.

So, we should give individual strangers the benefit of the doubt, but we can frown on the trend of leaving just because your kid didn’t win.


Stacey Frith-Smith November 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Any event that requires your attention for more than two hours is subject to a number of interruptions- some of necessity and some of convenience. I’d say that the matter is far more likely to be one of organization and management than of etiquette. “Insisting” that people stay to see a beginning musician, athlete, chess player or other competitor before “rewarding” them with a performance of any real quality is poor form indeed on the part of the organizers. It’s not rude to decline to donate many hours of time from your day (especially in repetitive events) to an event solely on the supposed etiquette of “supporting” the efforts of the performers. If organizers want the time and attention of the vast majority of a potential audience, then they need to bear in mind their comfort, convenience, and ability to courteously attend to the efforts of young performers. Anything longer than two hours is too long- and an intermission, separated events and categories of performer, or editing of the number of slots available for performance are in order. Either that- or let the tired participants and families depart in peace and without complaint, especially considering that they have already spent time, money and goodwill to attend practices, games, camps, skill drills or exams, certifications, and organizing meetings for fund raisers and other support efforts (as in musical competitions, many sports, debate, horsemanship/ dressage, rodeo, cheer, school based dance team, ballet…)


DanaJ November 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm

EllenS is very wise. It’s one thing if your event ends at 10:30 am and the awards ceremony is at 4:00pm, and another if you finished at 3:15.

The most egregious version of this I have seen was recently at a concert by a famous musician. The performers came back for their requisite encore (actually, they didn’t even leave the stage, but joked about how it’s expected that musicians pretend to end the show without performing their biggest hit, leave the stage, then come back to perform it.) As they were kibitzing with the audience and preparing to perform their big hit and final songs, great swaths of people started rushing out in order to beat the mess of traffic that would ensue when the performance truly ended.

It was disruptive for those who wanted to see the end of the show, and insulting to the musicians.


Danielle November 13, 2013 at 6:46 pm

I’m astonished to hear how many people think it’s okay to leave early because you are “so busy”. You wouldn’t have been too busy to stay if it were your own child getting the award. Also, if you do have that many things going on, it was your choice to be involved in them, and that means following through on each of the commitments you have made.

It is quite rude to walk out before awards are given to the winners, staying shows good sportsmanship and good manners. When we disregard these niceties, we are sending a message that our time is more valuable than any one else’s, and so therefore we deserve an exception to the rules of etiquette. The real problem that this causes is that every time we make one of these exceptions, the line between what is expected and courteous and what is rude and boorish gets blurred a little more until we have a society in which no one cares about how their actions effect anyone else, and that they themselves are the most important person to please.


Rap November 13, 2013 at 7:18 pm

“My thought is that teaching children they are “entitled” to an audience, no matter their skill level, is just as bad if not worse. ”

I think there’s such a thing as a coddling children too much and then there’s having half an audience stand up and leave because they don’t want to be bothered. No, you don’t OWE any child other than your own an audience but I trust you won’t complain when your kid worked really hard and goes last and performs only for you because no one else gave a damn about any child they didn’t share DNA with. If you attend a concert or a recietal and you know its an hour and a half and you leave as soon as your kid is done, I’m sorry its rude. Kids do know what it means when the audience is leaving – in most contexts, it means the show is so terrible, no one wants to watch.

Which is why you should stay for a full performance. The children performing at the beginning of the show get the full benefit of the parents forced to show up for the first performances, why are the children performing at the end of the show due less respect?


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