Is sportsmanship a lost art in sports today?
Most kids can remember walking down the line at the end of a little league game, or Pop Warner game, whatever it may have been, and shaking the opponents’ hands. Mumbling the words good game or good luck just becomes more of a routine and less of a sincere gesture as kids move up the athletic ladder through high school.
Today, many people see sportsmanship as a sign of weakness as opposed to strength and respect. In a modern culture where everything is about being the strongest and fastest, what is the value of sportsmanship?
This is a problem in sports today. Think, for a second, about the popularity of sports, and how the global reach they have in today’s age. Sports can have such an influence over so many people; there should be more of an emphasis on aiming to bring sportsmanship back into the games.
It all starts at the top. How many games do you watch on television where there are recognizable displays of sportsmanship? Now try to imagine how many times you have seen fights and dirty/cheap shots in a game.
Do not get me wrong, I totally understand the animosity that comes with a rivalry and emotions that games are played with. Players constantly battle with controlling their emotions and keeping them on an even-keel, and an overspill of emotions in the heat of the moment is perfectly understandable, but there is a line,
Just this past weekend, there was a skirmish that broke about before the annual Louisville-Kentucky rivalry football game. This is nothing new, especially not in a rivalry game. But, how many people saw what Devin Gardner did in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry game.
Ohio State quarterback, and Heisman hopeful, J.T. Barrett broke his ankle in the 4th quarter of the game on Saturday, and was on the turf for a while. While down in pain, Gardner, the quarterback for Michigan, came over to console Barrett, in a rare but excellent display of sportsmanship. Records and rivalries aside, here is a man who had the utmost respect for opponent, and did not like seeing Barrett go down due to injury.
In the NFL, there are many times when both teams get together on the field, and gather on one knee for someone who is injured. In the NHL, in the playoffs, after the two teams wrap up a grueling, brutal series, the players line up and shake hands and show their respect in what many hockey officials are calling one of the greatest traditions in sports.
These are great examples of sportsmanship, but they are few and far between. It should not take an injury for a player or team to display sportsmanship.
As I mentioned before, the problem starts at the top in the major professional sports organizations. Athletes, with millions of followers on Twitter, sometimes do not think twice before disrespecting another player with a tweet. These actions can trickle down into the minds of young kids and athletes.
Sportsmanship is not just a trait that stays on the field, either; it has characteristics that can be used in all aspects of life. Just watch an interview of Russell Wilson, and you can understand this.
It is not dead, but sportsmanship is becoming lost in sports. What do you think? Is sportsmanship important, or can sports do without it? I am not saying that rivalries should go, nor should the emotions of the game, but when the dust settles, there should be a mutual respect among the teams and players. If I were a father, I would rather have my son act the way Gardner did on Saturday, and not like one of these kids knocking out referees.
Billy Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org