What Happened to Good Sportsmanship?
By Dan Blankenship
If you haven’t seen the recent video of the savage and disgusting beating of a youth league basketball player during a game in Kansas City, Kansas, I hope you never do. To give you the less graphic summary than you might hear or see elsewhere, one teenager decided to clothesline a player from the opposing team. And while that player lay on the floor unconscious, the attacker repeatedly punched the player in the face. This incident actually occurred a few months ago but is now getting a lot more attention because charges – at the time of this writing – have not been filed against the attacker.
After I watched the video, I began to wonder why this type of behavior is escalating in the world of sports. Athletes train to perform the sport they choose. They watch others play the sport they enjoy. And these same athletes have to know that physically attacking their opponents is not going to do a thing to advance their skill level or notoriety. Okay, maybe in hockey notoriety increases a little. But all joking aside, it seems as if good sportsmanship is not as ingrained into our sporting events as it used to be.
My Google TM search for the words “sports violence” turned up 43,000 hits. Thank goodness a search of “good sportsmanship” resulted in ten times the amount of hits. So things may be turning around. Nevertheless, violence in sports is a subject that truly hits close to home for me; I have daughters who play soccer on some very competitive teams. And just a few months ago, my youngest daughter received what looked like an intentional elbow to the nose during a middle school basketball game.
I have even witnessed violence during a cross-country invitational, with one runner trying to push another runner into a tree.
The world loves a winner, but parents of children who want to see those children grow up to have children of their own, love to see athletes who embrace good sportsmanship. The most impressive events I have seen at any of my daughters’ games are not the soccer goals from forty yards out or the three-point shots swished by an on fire guard. No, the extraordinary displays of athleticism come when the losing team shakes hands with the winning team at the end of a tough match, heads held high, and “good game” spoken with sincerity.
I hope the young man who assaulted the opposing player in Kansas City realizes his mistake and apologizes for his crime. I think part of his punishment should be to talk to others about the need to bring good sportsmanship back to the world of athleticism.