Sportsmanship and Real Life Integrity
Sportsmanship is dying. It has been for a long time, and it seems that fatal blows are being struck of late. Worse yet, it’s being reflected in real life. It is easy for an athlete to get caught up in the heat of competition, and act in a questionable manner. But, more and more, there are athletes who will do whatever they have to, to win. And worryingly, this mentality is being applauded by fans and commentators alike.
Recently, a high profile European football match was won in the midst of questionable refereeing decisions and despicable acts by certain players. The names of the teams are not being called because that is irrelevant to the overall point of this editorial. After that match was played, fans and some media houses applauded the effort made by the victor. Many supporters agreed with the “do whatever it takes approach”.
The sporting website ESPN FC, wrote an article which was shared to social media with the redacted caption: “the self-proclaimed proponents of beautiful football, had to abandon the purest means of playing… It’s what winners do”. The article itself insisted that “winners separate themselves from the also-rans because they find a way, by fair means or foul.” We all know that there is on-field cheating by players, be it a dive, or an elbow or a subtle kick at an ankle. To have it condoned as an acceptable or even “champion” means of winning however is disappointing to say the least.
The inclination to accept cheating speaks volumes about integrity. About taking something unfairly as opposed to earning it. Yes, it is just a sport, but the attitude of those not playing the sport is still one that is accepting of nefarious means to get what they want. And sadly, we see instances of this in everyday life. This is what corruption is. This is what nepotism is. This attitude is the root of crime. It is about taking things you did not earn. It is a lack of integrity. And more importantly, it all stems from a failure by those benefitting, to say anything.
A lack of integrity has long plagued nations, including our own. It is a tough situation to remedy, but being aware of it is the first step to redemption. More and more, with any situation, big and small, we have to start asking ourselves “is this fair?”. If the answer is “no”, then we have to make amends accordingly.
This whole argument was inspired by a simple football match. But sport has always been more than just ‘sport’. And our attitudes in this regard, say much more about us, than we even know.
March 16th, 2017