Sportsmanship in Sports

John Morris
Staff writerJohn Morris Staff writer

Column by John Morris

Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks cornerback, intercepted Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback, and asked Tom Brady later, “You mad, bro?”

This was a highlight when the New England Patriots fell to the Seattle Seahawks 24-23 in 2012, but Brady and the Patriots got their revenge three years later in Super Bowl XLIV.

The Seahawks were on a march for the game-winning drive until the Patriots intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass to clinch the victory and give Brady his fourth championship ring. After taking a knee to run out the clock, Sherman walked up to Brady to shake his hand and after a few seconds, Brady stood up and shook Sherman’s hand as a sign of respect from both players.

They were similar scenarios with two different endings, but each was on two different ends of the spectrum of sportsmanship. One ending showed what people would call a lack of sportsmanship and one showing a great amount.

What constitutes sportsmanship?                                   

By definition, sportsmanship is ethical, appropriate, polite and fair behavior while participating in a game or athletic event.

As fans we enjoy the games and watch a lot of back-and-forth between competitors, and some people take the approach of messing with the opponent’s heads by talking to them all game just to get a response and get them out of their game. But a lot of people respect the guys who just go out and perform without any extra attitude.                             “Sportsmanship for me is when a guy walks off the court and you really can’t tell whether he won or lost, when he carries himself with pride either way,” Tennis great Jim Courier said.

This goes a long way with a lot of athletes-not everyone likes the guy or girl that has to let the world know every time they win. A well-known saying that a lot of coaches use for sportsmanship is to act like you been there.

For example, Sherman is more known for being the literal talk of the team and will talk his head off just to bring another element to the game. Marshawn Lynch, running back of the Seattle Seahawks, is more of the no-words just-play kind of guy. Even in the media he won’t talk. He just goes out and plays the game.

While Sherman talks a lot, he backs up most of it. Players don’t have the opportunity to banter with Sherman unless they do something spectacular against him, but that does not happen very often.

The classic sign of sportsmanship is teams shaking hands after a game. Every sport has a ritual of shaking hands with the opposing team.

Not everyone shakes hands, but it’s a symbol of class and respect. In a majority of sports, that is the key sign of respect and sportsmanship. In some instances, there might be bad blood between players and teams as a whole, so people don’t always want to shake hands. Sometimes in middle school or high school, – depending on the game – if there’s a little too much bad blood they might cancel the handshakes and part ways to avoid any confrontation.

Every athlete, current or former, knows sportsmanship is one of the first characteristics a player learns about when playing sports. It molds athletes into a better person-not just a competitor. It’s a basis for respect and is carried on even after their playing days are over.