Monday, October 29, 2007

Sportsmanship Matters

Yesterday in the world of sports, the New England Patriots ran up the score on the Washington Redskins. That’s an indisputable fact. What’s open for debate is whether or not the act was appropriate. Many have argued that, since we’re talking about professionals, there’s nothing wrong with continuing to score long after a win is inevitable. I disagree. And I think the failure to support good sportsmanship is one more indication that some serious ills afflict our society.

As anyone who has ever participated in sports knows, good sportsmanship is a vital component to playing a game. Without sportsmanship, sports lose their dignity and become just another venue for unmitigated aggression. One of the cornerstones of sportsmanship is the notion that, once the outcome of a game is no longer in any doubt, the winning side does not rub the losing side’s face in the defeat. They don’t taunt and they don’t boldly attempt to increase the other team’s humiliation. This does not mean that the winning team should stop playing once they’ve established an insurmountable lead. It simply means the winning team should not arrogantly pursue unnecessary points.

The fact that so many people (on-line and on sports talk radio) seem willing to defend the Patriots acts of poor sportsmanship is further evidence that we, as a culture, are losing our sense of honor and decorum. Sportsmanship, at its core, is an acknowledgement that while our teams may be opposing each other on the field of play, we, as a people, are still connected and don’t mean one another any harm. The failure to uphold the ideal of sportsmanship is part of the same trend that has all but removed civility and decency from the political arena.

As a society, we are becoming more and more selfish, believing with greater and greater fervor that our own satisfaction and our own victories (however superficial) are more important and inherently more deserved than those of our countrymen. We lack perspective and we lack a sense of the greater community. Concepts such as sportsmanship exist to uphold the promise of a civil and peaceful society. We should be concerned that such positive ideals are being treated as irrelevant.

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Blogger Dyre42 said...

I agree with you on the sportsmanship aspect. But one could alternately look at it from the viewpoint that it was a rare opportunity for the team and the players to pad their statistics.

9:08 PM  

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