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Good Sport or Bad Sport? 


Merriam-Webster defines sportsmanship as conduct becoming to one participating in a sport; that conduct being, fairness, respect for one’s opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing. Wikipedia touts that good sportsmanship is when teammates, opponents, coaches, and officials treat each other with respect and that the real winners in sports are those who know how to persevere and to behave with dignity – whether they win or lose the game.

Which jersey do you wear?
In the pool, on the courts, and on the playing field - we’ve all witnessed a display of bad sportsmanship; sadly enough, displayed by winners and losers alike! Whether you have participated in competitive sports in your lifetime or not, you have been taught the fundamentals of good sportsmanship at one time or another by your parents, a coach, a teacher, or by the examples set forth by professional sports athletes. What we do with that knowledge decides which jersey we wear; good sport or bad sport. The jersey you choose to wear reflects your true character; how you behave on the job, in personal relationships, and while playing sports. Watching and mimicking you is also how your children will learn about integrity and sportsmanlike conduct. When the chips are down, how you react reveals the true you; if you think like a bad sport, more than likely you act like a bad sport in every aspect of your life.

Character, integrity, and ethics; Oh my!
I’ve been involved in competitive sports and I get it. I know that sometimes when the pressure is on and you have someone on your team who revels in unsportsmanlike conduct, it’s down to the wire and you’re behind, or the opposing team is showing a substantial lack of integrity, it’s tempting to go to the dark side; don’t do it! At the end of the day, win or lose, they will be remembered for their poor character, integrity and unsportsmanlike conduct, and you will be able to walk away with your head held high, and actually look at yourself in the mirror.

“For when the Great Scorer comes, to write against your name, He marks not that you won or lost but how you played the game.” ~ Great American Sportswriter, Grantland Rice 1927

Celebrating good sportsmanship!
In 1991, the for International Sport Institute established National Sportsmanship Day, to promote good sportsmanship. Their aim is to promote ethics, honesty, and fair play through education and sport, and to provide participating schools, clubs, and athletic organizations a model to help them celebrate the day with activities that will encourage good sportsmanship year-round.

One of the significant aspects of the celebration includes an essay contest co-sponsored with USA Today, where students from the elementary grade level through the college and university level are invited to write a sportsmanship themed essay. The winning paper will receive the honor of being published in USA Today on March 5th. Essays must be submitted to the Institute by February 28, 2013. Visit the Institute’s web site for details of how your organization or school can get involved.

The Sports Ethics Fellows Program associated with National Sportsmanship Day includes specially selected individuals who have demonstrated outstanding levels of leadership promoting good sportsmanship to assist with the expansion of NSD, and to write about current issues of ethics and sportsmanship in today’s society. Over the years, such greats as Carl Lewis, David Robinson, Bob Turley, Jean Driscoll, Michael Phelps, Bart Connor, Mark Murphy, and Phil Jackson have shared this honor. National Sportsmanship Day will be celebrated this year on March 5th.

Good or bad, the choice is yours
The next time you are standing in front of the tennis net, on a basketball court, on the pitcher’s mound, the one yard line, or sitting in the bleachers at your kid’s little league game, win or lose, how you treat the players on the opposing team will show the world the man or woman you really are. In an instant, your reputation can change from being an upstanding, classy, great athlete or parent everyone wants to play or sit with, to someone who is a royal jerk no one wants to be around. The choice is yours – you know the right one to make.

"If you can react the same way to winning and losing, that’s a big accomplishment. That quality is important because it stays with you the rest of your life, and there’s going to be a life after tennis that’s a lot longer than your tennis life.” ~ Chris Evert Lloyd

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