Here is the scenario: a fifth/sixth-grade hockey game just finishes and one team gets blown out. After the game, they line up to shake hands with the winning team, and there is no one to shake hands with. Not only did that team win the game, but then to add salt to the injury, they didn't come over and shake hands.
Here is the response: 10-year-old Brenden Hoogesteger (a player on the losing team) goes home and starts a business called "Good Sports Rock. Isn't that what most 10-year-olds do?
Brenden, now 12 years old, has a website: www.goodsportsrock.com.
"I was driving home in the car, and I kept saying I can't believe this, I can't believe this", Brenden told me during our phone conversation.
Brenden was so hurt by the fact that winning the game was more important than sportsmanship and giving value to the other athletes.
"You may lose the game, but you can still be a winner because of your effort", he told me.
So he started a business. "I am the president, my dad is the CEO, and my grandma is the CFO", he said.
"We all work for Brenden", said Mike Ziembowicz, his dad.
Brenden sells bracelets that say "good sports rock". And if you look close enough, you can also see two hands reaching for each other to shake. The shaking hands remind Brenden of what didn't happen that game, but should have.
"I want parents to tell their kids to look down at their bracelet and see those shaking hands to remind them to represent that", Brenden said. "I want this to go global".
Good Sports Rock is a proud partner with the Special Olympics. A portion of all sales goes to the Special Olympics. They have been able to donate several hundred dollars, a number of times.
"I picked the Special Olympics, Arizona because in my opinion, they symbolize good sportsmanship and don't let their disabilities get the best of them", Brenden told me.
Well, he didn't stop with the bracelets. He has added baseball caps, window decals, and even iphone covers to his product list. He wanted to his message to be "put on everyday items", he told me.
Brenden even went on to tell me that his vision is that everyone would remember that good sportsmanship is an attitude that isn't just for sports, and that it should carry over into their lives as well.
I think he gets it!
Even the way that he goes about his business represents that very thing he promotes: good sportsmanship. "I wanted to figure out a way to promote good sportsmanship without ridiculing anyone", he said to me.
I think he gets it!
What an ambassador for youth sports he has become.
He loves the family business. He even leads the quarterly board meetings.
"My dad gets the home office, and I get to use my bedroom as my office", he said with enthusiasm.
"I can fire my dad, but I will get grounded", he said.
Now I am fully convinced that he gets it!
Email Tom Kuyper at email@example.com
Copyright 2014 The Montgomery Advertiser
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The Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama)
March 9, 2014 Sunday
SECTION: RECREATIONAL SPORTS
HEADLINE: Youth and sports: Kid takes sportsmanship seriously
BYLINE: Tom Kuyper