Sportsmanship isn’t dead… but it doesn’t seem to exactly be thriving either…

With the 2016 Olympics in full swing there have been some incredible accomplishments. Canada’s female athletes have been leading the way with all but one of the country’s first 13 medals all going to our women.

However, one thing that I’ve noticed is some of the poor sportsmanship being displayed.

From athletes, such as Gabby Douglas, being disrespectful to her own team mates, and not respecting her own national anthem, to Hope Solo calling the team that she lost to ‘cowards’: examples of poor sportsmanship keep being demonstrated.

It’s noy just the Americans either with the Egyptian competitor refusing to shake hands with his Israeli opponent before a judo match.

Sometimes, it’s even considered acceptable on the grounds that “it was personal”. Such as when Michael Phelps  raised his fingers in the air after winning gold in the mens 200m butterfly, refusing to even look at his rival Chad le Clos of South Africa.

The crowds are even getting in on the act booing just about everybody. They’re booing the favourites, Russians, politicians, anybody competing against Brazil (even when they’ve been injured), the judges and apparently even just booing for fun!

In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.

Given that all Olympians declare the Olympic Oath which explicitly states the support of sportsmanship I find these behaviours despicable, and the fact that statements like this one from John Ridley even exist deplorable.

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Thankfully, all is not lost. There are some stories of good sportsmanship with the American Olympic archery team leading the way. What I love about this story is that the athletes’ parents are demonstrating and leading their children by example with their support for each other and all their children.

If they can understand that how they act and behave is important then hopefully others will start to realise that they are on the world’s stage. Every time one of these elite athletes act poorly millions of children are watching and will emulate their behaviour.

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Hopefully, following the Archery team’s example other athlete’s will step up and honour their olympic oath.

If any of them need a reminder as to what good sportsmanship looks like they need look no further than Jack Sock in a tennis match this past January. Much to the amusement of the referee Jack Sock tells his opponent, Leighton Hewitt, to challenge a call made by the ref. demonstrating that being honest was more important than winning that day.

That’s an athlete that is not only phenomenal at his chosen sport but one who is also a great human being which will stand him well in life both now and when he retires from the sport.

He’s not alone.

Over the years there have been incredible moments of sportsmanship at the Olympics. From sailors honouring the code of all sailors everywhere to help another in distress, at the cost of their own medal chances, to athletes lending equipment to others.

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In this era where everything that these athletes do is instantly transmitted around the globe and delivered literally into the hands of tomorrow’s athletes I hope that in these remaining days of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio we start seeing more and more athletes not only living up to their oath but also understanding what Damien Scott says so well:

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Please urge our athletes to uphold the spirit of the Olympics, stop making excuses for bad sportsmanship and hold our athletes accountable for their behavior. They are setting the example for our athletes of tomorrow.

One thought on “Sportsmanship isn’t dead… but it doesn’t seem to exactly be thriving either…”

  1. I love the sportsmanship shown in the Tour de France. If the race goes into a competitors home town or village, then they ask the the peloton if they can ride on and greet their family. They always agree and they ride on ahead taking no advantage and then rejoin when the peloton catch up. Also after all the stages the final stage there us never a challenge to the yellow jersey. And yes they really do race to be first over the line on the Champs Ellesye.

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