Sportsmanship does not mean only taking part in sports and playing the game in conformity with the rules prescribed, but also playing the game of life in the spirit imbibed on the playing fields.
A true sportsman is he who observes all those rules in life which he has been taught to observe in games. One who has achieved skill or proficiency in games but does not learn to apply the principles of sports to life in general does not deserve to be called a sportsman.
On the contrary, a man who gives evidence of possessing a sporting spirit in games is still a sportsman. Usually those who play games develop into true sportsmen because their character is molded by the training they are given on the field.
It implies fair play. Just in games if any player plays foul, the side to which he belongs is penalized, similarly in the bigger game of life one must always be fair in one's dealings with others.
Fairness, honesty, integrity, openness of heart and frankness -these are the qualities that a sportsman must display in life. One should not practice deception, should not bluff, should not cheat others and should indulge in diplomacy or humility. A sportsman never takes undue advantage of the weakness of his adversary nor does he hit below the belt.
The art implies obedience to the leader. In games the players have to obey their captain and yield to him on points on which they are in disagreement with him. They must repose the fullest confidence in him. In life too, a sportsman yields to his superior even if he does not agree with him. Respect for discipline is an essential part of sportsmanship.
Team spirit is another important element of sportsmanship. In games the various players must cooperate with one another if they wish to win a match. Without mutual co-operation success is impossible. Similarly in whatever sphere of life one may be, one must aid and be aided by one's friends if one is a true sportsman.
Sportsmanship consists in working in full harmony with others. In cooperation indeed lies strength. Wherever a common aim binds a number of people together, they must display their sportsmanship by working harmoniously, without friction or mutual jealousy.
Finally, the spirit of sportsmanship demands cheerfulness even in the face of a defeat. When two players play a tennis match, the loser does not cherish any grudge against the winner. In fact the loser congratulates his opponent on his success and shakes hands with him.
Fair play, respect for discipline, recognition of the need for teamwork and cheerfulness even in the event of defeat are thus the dominant marks of a sportsman. Sportsmanship is worthy of admiration
If you're into sports, you've seen it happen. You've probably even experienced it: Football players shaking hands after four quarters of knocking each other around. Tennis players leaping over the net to shake hands with their opponents after a hard-fought match. Soccer players exchanging jerseys after an intense 90 minutes. Even boxers touching gloves at the beginning of each round, then hugging each other after beating each other into a pulp for 12 rounds.
It seems like competitors in every event, from spelling bees to hockey, behave this way. What's going on?
It's all part of sportsmanship, a great tradition in sports and competition that means playing clean and handling both victory and defeat with grace, style, and dignity.
What Is Sportsmanship?
Sportsmanship is defined as:
- playing fair
- following the rules of the game
- respecting the judgment of referees and officials
- treating opponents with respect
Some people define good sportsmanship as the "golden rule" of sports — in other words, treating the people you play with and against as you'd like to be treated yourself. You demonstrate good sportsmanship when you show respect for yourself, your teammates, and your opponents, for the coaches on both sides, and for the referees, judges, and other officials.
But sportsmanship isn't just reserved for the people on the field. Cheerleaders, fans, and parents also need to be aware of how they behave during competition. Sportsmanship is a style and an attitude, and it can have a positive influence on everyone around you.
Win or Lose, Sportsmanship Helps You Get Through
In the last few years, taunting, trash-talking, gloating, and cheap shots have become all too common in sports. You've probably seen athletes who take their own successes too seriously, too. They celebrate a goal with a prolonged victory dance or constantly brag about their abilities.
This is the exact opposite of what sportsmanship is all about. This kind of behavior might make you feel tough or intimidating to an opponent, but keep in mind it can also cause you to lose the match. Plenty of games have been lost to penalties gathered from "unsportsmanlike conduct."
Everyone feels great when they win, but it can be just as hard to be a good sport when you've won a game as when you've lost one. Good sportsmanship takes maturity and courage — when you work really hard at a sport, it's not easy to admit you made a bad play or that someone has more skills than you. In competition — as in life — you may not always win but you can learn something from losing, too.
It's pretty tough to lose, so it definitely doesn't help matters if someone continues taunting you or your team after the competition is over. Sometimes it's hard to swallow your pride and walk on. But there's always the next match.
When you do lose — and it will happen — don't take it out on your opponent, blame the officials, or blame your team. Take it in stride. When you lose, lose with class. Being proud of how you performed, or at least being aware of things you need to improve for next time, is key.
When it comes to losing, good sportsmanship means congratulating the winners promptly and willingly. Also, it means accepting the game's outcome without complaint and without excuses, even if you sometimes might feel the referees made a few questionable calls.
When you win, the trick is to be a gracious and generous winner. Good sportsmanship means acknowledging victories without humiliating opponents, being quietly proud of success, and letting victories speak for themselves. Even if you win by a landslide, good sportsmanship means still finding ways to compliment your opponents.
Practicing Good Sportsmanship
So what does it take to demonstrate good sportsmanship in real-life situations? Here are some examples of things you can do:
- Learn as much as you can about your sport. Play by its rules. Show up for practice, work hard, and realize that on a team, everyone deserves a chance to play.
- Talk politely and act courteously toward everyone before, during, and after games and events. That includes your teammates, your opponents, your coaches and their coaches, the officials presiding over the game, and even spectators (who can sometimes be loud about their opinions).
- Stay cool. Even if others are losing their tempers, it doesn't mean you have to. Remind yourself that no matter how hard you've practiced and played, it is, after all, just a game.
- Avoid settling disputes with violence. If you're in a difficult situation or someone's threatening you, seek help immediately from your coach or from an official. Remember, too, that if you respond with violence you could get penalized, which could hurt your chances of winning.
- Cheer your teammates on with positive statements — and avoid trash-talking the other team.
- Acknowledge and applaud good plays, even when someone on the other team makes them.
- When officials make a call, accept it gracefully even if it goes against you. Remember that referees may not be right every time — but they're people who are doing their best, just as you are.
- Whether you win or lose, congratulate your opponents on a game well played.
Fair and Fun
Good sportsmanship means not having a "win at any cost" attitude. Most athletes who don't have a "win at any cost" attitude are more likely to talk about how much they love their sport and how much personal satisfaction and enjoyment they get from participation.
Most people won't go on to play professional sports, and only a few will win scholarships to play at college. But many forget to have a good time during the years they do play because they're so focused on winning.
And, unfortunately, parents and coaches sometimes put too much pressure on athletes, emphasizing winning at all costs. So although it's great to be a champion, it's even better to have enjoyed the process of trying to reach the top. It's best to play fair while having fun.
Sportsmanship Off the Field
Learning good sportsmanship means finding that the positive attitude learned on the field carries over into other areas of life. At school, for example, you're able to appreciate the contributions made by classmates and know how to work as part of a team to complete a project. You may enjoy more success at work as well, because a big part of learning good sportsmanship is learning to be respectful of others, including customers and coworkers.