Death of Sportsmanship
Behavior in the Pros
As an older sports fan I know what the concept of sportsmanship entails. Our athletes are ideally supposed to set the highest standards of behavior both on and off the playing field. More and more of today's athletes are failing miserably in this regard. Mega egos are taking over many sports to the detriment of the concept of team play. There are many players that act as if they are one man shows and aren't afraid to say so.
Some Examples of Poor Sportsmanship
Some recent examples of these ridiculous antics follow. The first is the potato sack race performance by the K.C. Chiefs after scoring a touchdown. How about the boxing match from the Detroit Lions. Are these guys serious? Fans must also endure a steady stream of chest-thumping and pelvic thrusting after a sack or defensive stop. How about the players giving the first down sign to make sure we all know of their achievement? And let's not forget the pointing heavenward after a score, as if God himself were involved with the success of the play! We are now even treated to home run dances in baseball.
It's Only One Play
In many instances, particularly sacks, all of the gyrations are the result of one single play. After all of the bicep flexing and finger shaking are taken into account, we are left with this analysis. Yes, you may have turned in an exceptional effort on one play, but let's put things into perspective. That same player may have been contained for 20 other plays for which he was on the field. What a defender knocks down a pass and starts a swaggering around, we should ask what happened when that same receiver beat the defense with 10 catches for 140 yards.
It's Your Job
What it all boils down to is this - It's time to start to bring these big heads back down to Earth and remind these players that this level of play is exactly what is expected of them. They are paid quite handsomely for their efforts. The offensive players are supposed to gain yards, get first downs, and score points. The defense is expected to deny the offense any success in their objectives.
You are not really supposed to get endless praise for simply meeting your basic job requirements. Ask any teacher about their students who want that same praise and special recognition for just turning in their work. It's not fair to the kids who do their work all the time without special recognition. This same concept applies to everyone else.
When Your Team Loses
Something that is particularly ironic is how foolish these grown men look after they have put on these horrible displays they come up short and lose the game. The recent Kansas City loss is a perfect example. In light of the lost game these celebrations are just plain silly.
Now imagine, if you would, if everyone copied this behavior. Picture yourself in court and the judge has ruled in your favor. Your lawyer jumps up and high fives the bailiff, court reporter, and judge and then proceeds to taunt the opposing council - complete with pelvic thrusts and dancing around the courtroom. How about this scenario: you are out to dinner with friends and you are a party of 6. Your orders come out of the kitchen all on one very full tray. After successfully delivering all 6 dinners, your server suddenly begins whirling around the restaurant with other staff members jubilantly celebrating this epic achievement! This doesn't seem appropriate, does it? Athletes are just like any other profession and they should stay grounded in reality.
High School is Over
What it all boils down to is simply this: Get past the egocentric behavior, act with dignity and maturity! It seems to be very popular, in the media, to depict men as childish and foolish. But we should not allow this to carry over into real life. We should expect our heroes to act heroically - and as adults.
Today's athletes have to accept the fact that they are role models for our children. This is true whether they want to face it or not. Young fans are always watching, so players should set the best example possible.
They should accept defeat graciously, answer difficult questions patiently and politely without surly attitudes. Even more importantly, they must be respectful and humble in victory! Share credit with your teammates as your outstanding play is only one of many in a game. Credit your opposition for their efforts and show respect for their abilities - especially when you are lucky enough to be on a team that has superior overall talent!
Above all, never berate or insult your opponent with taunting and disrespectful behavior. Keep in mind that sports have been given the illusion of overblown importance relative to real life. This has been beautifully orchestrated by the entertainment industry. Let's not lose sight of the fact that each week both amazing and horrible plays are made, but in the end, it is still just a game.