Sports Talk With Mike Meals - Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship…fair and generous behavior or treatment of others, especially in a sports contest.

I am sure that at one time or another in our lifetimes, that we have all had a parent, a coach or a teammate stress to us the importance of sportsmanship. And even though when we are in competition, and we have our game faces on, and we want to beat the daylights out of our opponent, it is still the nature of most to apply the Golden Rule by treating others like we want to be treated. Most of us want to be fair. Most of us want to treat others with respect. Most of us want to be, and are, good sports.

I have been involved with sports for a lot of years as a participant, a parent and a coach. I have been to thousands of practices and sporting events in my lifetime. And, I have to say that in most instances, good sportsmanship is displayed. But, there are times, when one has to shake his head and wonder what some people are thinking. What is going through the heads of a coach, a group of athletes, or the fans when they act, or react, in a manner that is anything but being a good sport?

I have to admit, there have been times, during a contest, in the heat of the moment, that I have acted in an unsportsmanlike manner. But, I don’t think there has been a time when my actions, even though not desirable at times, have been with the intent to embarrass the opponent. Unfortunately, what I have witnessed on more than one occasion recently has been, sadly enough, what our society in general has degraded to. There is a sense that everything is about “me” and to heck with everyone else. There is little respect for the opponent, and thus, little sportsmanship. I have seen coaches, athletes and fans act in a manner that, in my opinion, is a total embarrassment to their school district and to their programs. And while I am sure that these folks think they will be remembered by their season record. It is my belief that history will judge them by their character. Don’t get me wrong. I understand when you are good and you have real shot at doing something special, there is a need to get the starters their playing time. And I have no problem with parents supporting their kids. But, there is a right way and a wrong way to do these things. I’ve been on both ends of it in my lifetime. I’ve been a part of teams that are the best in the league. I’ve been a part of teams that are the worst in the league. But, in either case, hopefully the one thing that remains constant is a high level of sportsmanship.

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