Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Winning, Good Sportsmanship, and the American Way...

I was talking with Brother Malcolm today, and he mentioned that he had gotten into a discussion on one of the boards he participates in regarding good sportsmanship. Brother Malcolm maintained that it was important that, even in professional sporting events, good sportsmanship be maintained.

His opponent, countered that this smacked of liberal sentiments, and accused (quite-wrongly) that Brother Malcolm was a liberal. Now, a quick glance at Too Much Liberty and all was settled regarding the good Brother's right leaning tendencies. But that brings me to the topic of this post.

I don't think that good sportsmanship is in any way "liberal". To the contrary, I think the tenets of good sportsmanship:
  • Full commitment to participation (e.g., showing up, working hard during all practices and games, acknowledging one’s mistakes and trying to improve)
  • Respect and concern for rules and officials
  • Respect and concern for social conventions (e.g., shaking hands, recognizing the good performance of an opponent)
  • Respect and concern for the opponent (e.g., lending one’s equipment to the opponent, agreeing to play even if the opponent is late, not taking advantage of injured opponents)
  • Avoiding poor attitudes toward participation (e.g., not adopting a win-at-all-costs approach, not showing temper after a mistake, and not competing solely for individual prizes)
Are things that any conservative can agree to. I believe they are appropriate, gentlemanly, and expected behaviors in any sporting activity. I have my father to thank for making sure I know the rules of good sportsmanship, and I'm sure many of you learned the same way.

It probably started with a simple handshake after a baseball game. Or an admonishment not to gloat about beating your sibling at a game: "nobody likes a sore-winner" (or loser). And you learned it was appropriate to cheer a fallen player when he gets back up, regardless of the team he's on.

These behaviors are American. And are only "liberal" in so much as they have fallen from practice by so many Americans, and must seem new.

We have soccer moms fighting in the sidelines and dads attacking referee's for ejecting obscenity spewing parents during children's games. Just a quick glance at http://www.naso.org/sportsmanship/badsports.html will show you that we are not teaching good sportsmanship to our children, and apparently, some of us have failed to learn it ourselves.

"But we are Americans, and this is America! We are about winning!"

At what cost? Yes, Americans love a winner and don't give a "hoot in hell for a man that lost and laughed". But we don't particularly like a sore winner, either.

So, the next time you see someone being a bad sport, take the time to let them know they are behaving improperly.

1 comment:

Old Man said...

Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, stated, "The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand." This is definitely a conservative mindset.