Sportsmanship (HLD 204)

12 Oct 2020

Woo hoo – Daniel Ricciardo finished third in a Formula One race last night!

We feel a deep kinship with young Daniel – not only is he Australian, he’s West Australian. And more than that, he’s from Duncraig, a suburb we too lived in. So really, he’s kind of like a relative, and we refer to him as Dan because we are just that close, dammit.

Spoiler alert, I’ve never met him. But he’s ours anyway.

Like all relatives, famous or not, we have times when we aren’t quite so sure about the mental capacity of the individual. Other relatives have questionable senses of humour, but this particular one is known to drink expensive champagne from a smelly shoe. But he has a nice smile and appears to be a humble kid, so we ignore that odd habit he has.

Another thing about our Dan, is that he appears to exemplify good sportsmanship. Again, we aren’t SUPER close, you understand, but this is how he comes across. In a recent race, he was penalised for doing something wrong, and was heard on the radio apologising to his team, and then told them he’d fix the problem. And he did. Very different from the reaction of other race car drivers in similar situations.

I’m not assuming the man is without a healthy supply of ego, because I really don’t think you can rise to elite level in any sporting field unless you were convinced you were the absolute best, but it’s not obvious.

So what does it take to have great sportsmanship? Is it the ability to acknowledge that, while this game is the be all and end all of your sporting career, it is, after all, just a game? Or is it acknowledging your opponents and referees as fellow human beings in a “do unto others” frame of mind?

Fortunately, good sportsmanship is given as much attention in the media as bad sportsmanship – maybe because it’s unusual and unexpected, who knows?

There are some wonderful examples of good sportsmanship – Olympic athletes, rugby players, golfers, and car racing too! Cricket has quite a few examples – Freddy Flintoff consoling Brett Lee after beating his team, Brett Lee (ok so I watched Brett Lee a lot) rushing to check if a batsman that had been hit by one of his deliveries was ok, and of course our other unwillingly adopted relative Adam Gilchrist, who became known as a ‘Walker’, for acknowledging when he knew he was out – even if the umpire hadn’t picked it.

Of course sportsmanship isn’t only evident in elite sports men and women. Everyday people making sure that they stop and talk with people wearing opposition team colours after a match, and applauding a good effort by an opposing team, all go a long way to teaching children the values of sportsmanship that will stand them in good stead in life – even if they don’t become famous for playing a game of some sort.

Below is a list of things that parents are advised to teach their children about sportsmanship – but, really, we could all do with knowing these lessons regardless of our sports interest or lack thereof.

If you lose, don’t make up excuses.

If you win, don’t rub it in.

Learn from mistakes and get back in the game.

Always do your best.

If someone else makes a mistake, remain encouraging and avoid criticizing.

Show respect for yourself, your team, and the officials of the game.

Oh – and if you do happen to come third in a formula one car race, for crying out loud keep your shoes on.

Well done, Dan 🙂

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