it’s part of the game
The First Tee defines Sportsmanship as “observing the rules of play and winning or losing with grace”.
As we know, in any competition, emotions can get the best of us and we forget about what it means to have grace whether winning or losing. You must have Confidence, but you should also have Respect for yourself and those around you.
The late Arnold Palmer was famous for not only his great golf skills, but also for his tremendous class. Friend and rival Jack Nicklaus tells the story of his first time playing competitively against Palmer back in 1962 at Phoenix, (Nicklaus.com).
“It was the last round. Arnold was going to win the golf tournament. He won by 12 shots. I finished second. We walked off the 17th green and he put his arm around my shoulder. And he said, ‘You know, you can finish second here. Just be patient. Play this last hole smart. You can make birdie, and you can finish second,’ which I did.”
That was Palmer and in a lot of ways, that is sportsmanship. With a new generation and different perspectives, there are now new interpretations on how sports should be played.
The idea of the “traditional” way is to win with grace and to respect the game. Showboating or overt frustration is seen to some as a form of disrespect to the game. It has been said that the Integrity of the game is lost when a player does such an action.
The proclaimed new way to play involves a little showboating and showing of emotions. It involves celebrations such as touchdown dances and bat flips. We see players now burst out with emotion, yelling out of excitement and dancing.
Although there may not be a “right” or “wrong” way to play, we must remember what it feels like to be on the other side of the celebration. Competition brings out our emotions and it can be a great teaching tool for kids playing sports. But what made Arnold Palmer one of the great and iconic athletes in all of sports was his ability to win gracefully and embody sportsmanship.