I don’t know if the concept of sportsmanship was ever instilled in me or if I just had enough common sense to have it, but in sports, it’s one of the most important attributes to have.
So often today, athletes forget this fact. I used to play volleyball in high school and still play golf occasionally. As a female sports fan, I know that there are incredibly frustrating aspects of every sport or game you can play. It can be easy to lash out at fellow athletes, officials, and even spectators. A few recent events have inspired me to take up this subject.
I don’t know how many people saw the footage of the most recent series between the A’s and the Royals. It was the most abysmal display of baseball I’ve seen in a good while. The benches were emptied multiple times. Players and coaches alike were tossed from the game. In a final act of defiance, Royals pitcher Kelvin Herrera threw a rogue (100 mph) fastball high and behind Brett Lawrie. As he exited the field, he motioned to his head, implying that next time, he was aiming for Lawrie’s head. As Sean Doolittle tweeted, the whole situation was “Bush league”. Still, both parties were at fault by acting like a bunch of neanderthals, but it’s not this game alone that’s the problem.
This sort of stuff happens in sports all the time. People throw punches, take cheap shots, and more. There are so many different things that fuel these acts of poor sportsmanship. Whether it’s a rivalry or just an intense desire to win, this behavior is not okay. Sure, it can be exciting and a huge draw for fans (see: hockey), but it can also be dangerous and career-ending. It’s uncommon for any particular athlete to be praised for their humility and appreciation for peers anymore.
Jordan Spieth, the 79th man to earn his green jacket at the Masters, is a rare example of this humility. Speith demonstrated class and camaraderie throughout every twist and turn of the tournament. He was seen congratulating his peers on good shots and getting excited when he could match their skills. This man is one of the youngest winners of the Masters and set records for unbelievably low scores in many rounds with a whopping 28 birdies total. He has everything in the world to brag about. Instead, he appreciates the game and his competitors. I’m in love with him. It’s fine. It’s casual.
Anyway, my point is, for whatever reason people seem to think getting all fired up and violent during a game shows you’re tough. I argue that you’ll garner a lot more respect when you demonstrate respect. Be a Jordan Spieth. He won the Masters, guys. He’s obviously doing something right.