Sportsmanship is being lost in sports today. It is a really sad loss for us all.
End of another school year. This is the time of year, every year, where hard work, application of skills and energetic spirit come to an end. But one of the things that continue into the summer is the playing of organized sports on established House League, Select or Rep Teams. What a great way to occupy children in the summer and at the same time teach them team skills and life skills that will propel them into young adults. Sportsmanship is one of those important areas that give me pause when I don’t see it in evidence on amateur teams or professional ones.
As grandparents, we always supported any sports activities our grandchildren chose. Not only do they learn the skills of the sport, but they also developed good friendships. Both of our grandchildren won top honours in their respective hockey league. We chose to be at our grandson’s championship game, as they played in two different arenas. We observed how hard the individual team members played, how teamwork jelled for these 8-year-old players and how they responded to every challenge. When a goal was scored, the players had a quick moment of hoisting a hockey stick in the air and then back to the centre they ran (it was ball hockey) to continue the game. And, we cheered them on!
At the end of this season, they won the championship 5-1. Before the team received their medals and the “Stanley Cup”, the coach gathered the team together and those 8-year-old players huddled for a few minutes and collectively “high-fived” the losing team! What a grand gesture! What an incredible teachable moment for both the players and for the parents sitting in the bleachers!
There was no over-the-top display of winning, just smiles all around! How wonderful that these young players already have a sense of good sportsmanship and recognition of their opponent’s effort in the competition! It really is a winner and a confidence builder!
And then I watched the women’s soccer World Cup match in France! The U.S team was already quite a bit ahead of the Thailand team, but they did not hold back in celebrating each goal, as though it were their last! Goals 8, 9 and 10, were especially hard to watch as the U.S team’s captain threw herself on the ground fists and legs pumping in the air and vocalizing her pleasure rather loudly. Then she ran over to the American bench and the whooping and hollering continued for some time. The receiving end of this performance, of course, was the team from Thailand. Some of their members actually burst into tears. They looked bewildered and lost on the field. The Thai team was beaten far beyond just the soccer pitch.
I had to wonder why was it necessary to demean the losing team when the resulting score was so lopsided, 13-0 to be exact. I think this display is so un-Canadian. I would hope, as we have seen with our grandson, that the young budding athletes of today are taught to win with much more grace.
A former Canadian International Athlete on TSN summed it up the best for me. “As Canadians, we would never ever think of doing something like that…for me, it is disrespectful. They should have displayed humility and grace.” I truly hope that the young athletes of today and that includes my grandchildren, learn how to be humble and graceful when honour is bestowed on them by the community now, and perhaps, by the country and the world later.
Just my opinion!