On observing some of the recent major sporting competitions, I was struck by the concept of sportsmanship or rather spoilsportsmanship’ so disconcertingly apparent.Don’t get me wrong, I know that sporting events are not all rainbows and butterflies.
The point of a competition is the determination to be better than your competitors; the drive to outshine them and win.The PC Brigades might disagree – you know, the type that ban school sports days because it makes everyone bar the winners feel inadequate.
But what of the sense of ambition to be first competition also breeds?
When I was eight-years-old, my mother told her friends it was ‘the taking part that counts’ as I took my position on the start line for the egg and spoon.As she looked on in disbelief as I edged to pole position towards the finish line, she left said friends to sprint along with me and shouted so loudly, she all but lost her voice.
Taking part is good – it keeps you fit of body and mind and blah, blah, blah but there is only one winner and who does not want to be it?
Determination, competitiveness and drive to perform to your full potential are on the whole beneficial and admirable qualities to possess.
Let’s turn to the fans. Dedicated devotees put their heart and soul into showing their support for the chosen sportsperson, team or country.When I think of the infamous Tartan Army who travel the globe to watch Scotland play football, my heart swells with pride.
Other fans take the form of pushy parents driving their children all over the country to compete in their chosen sport – or indeed, screaming like a banshee at the unexpected egg and spoon victory.
And then there were the Ryder Cup fans. Upon switching channel to watch the European comeback, I was appalled by the scene unfolding.
The American fans were booing the European golfers as they teed off.
The basics of golf etiquette lies in the tradition of respecting the golfers’ in a game that requires intense concentration. Ergo, for this to be happening at the No1 matchplay tournament in the world was head-scratchingly baffling.
I’m a patriotic Scot and Brit, but would NEVER dream of yelling things such as “hit it into the water” or “whack it into a tree”.It was downright rude and on this occasion in danger of sabotaging the golfers’ games.
Being a spoilsport was taken to a new level in the Olympics this summer.
Patriotism is beautiful at its full at such an event and enhanced as a result, but deliberate sabotage can never be justified.
Philip Hindes, for example, deliberately fell off his bike after getting the British cyclist team off to a bad start in his first leg of the race.If a cyclist can claim that their bike was at fault, the race has to be restarted, which it was and the British team then went on to win the heat and ultimately the race.Hurrah for Britain: another gold. However, if Hindes had been a good sportsman, couldn’t he have simply tried to catch up and admitted defeat? That said, he played within the rules, using them to his and his country’s advantage. In terms of Games legality, he did nothing wrong.
Where do you draw the line? Four different country’s women’s teams deliberately tried to lose certain badminton matches to draw with easier competitors in the quarterfinals.
Surely this took tactics to a new low. If those people at the top of their game, paid handsomely for doing something they love, are not prepared to put in the hard work to win, or even play by the rules – they should be out on their ear and thankfully were.
The sporting world is all around us, in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain and beyond on a daily basis - from a nursery school sack race to an Old Firm game.
Perhaps we should take a look at what our ‘competitive streak’ and ‘patriotism’ is coming to and remember that whilst we all want to win or back a winner, we can’t all the time – otherwise Ladbrokes would be bust.
Sport is meant to be fun and more importantly, fair. So next time you’re at an egg and spoon race and you see a boy powering past everyone with his thumb ‘illegally’ over the egg, or hear foul-mouthed abuse on the terraces - don’t be too surprised. They probably watched the Olympics or the Ryder Cup.