The Long Island Junior Soccer League’s Sportsmanship program was the brainchild of Rocco Amoroso in the early 1980’s and is the first program of its kind, not just in the world of youth soccer, but in youth sports the world over.
As the league began to grow and play at higher levels of competition, there was a movement within the league to remain focused on the mission of the LIJSL to develop mature adults and responsible citizens through the lessons of teamwork and fair play. The goal was to Build Character Through Soccer, a sentiment that continues to be stamped on the league’s logo to this day.
With this in mind, Amoroso wrote the guidelines, secured initial sponsorship of the program with the Sports Billy Organization, and tirelessly promoted the program within the LIJSL membership. He stressed the important role that sportsmanship plays in the development of players, and today the program has become an integral part of the league’s competition format.
Referees now submit sportsmanship ratings after every game, and points are allotted by the Sportsmanship committee. Winners are recognized at special ceremonies and dinners in March, and get to wear a sportsmanship award patch on their uniform – the only patch players may wear on their uniform other than their club patch.
In October of 1983, Thomas Downey, Congressional Representative for the 2nd District, entered the name of the Long Island Junior Soccer League into the Congressional Record, mentioning the program’s motto of, “Building Character Through Soccer.” These program guidelines have been adopted by the American Youth Soccer Organization, a national group of over 750,000 youngsters. The Eastern New York State Soccer Association has also adopted the program, and the Rocco Amoroso Sportsmanship Trophy is now given annually at the National Championships. In addition, the principles of the program have been incorporated by the Mayo Football League of Ireland and the Republic of China.
Needless to say, the league takes great pride in the Sportsmanship Program, and many thanks to Modell’s, who continues to sponsor the program today.