September 21, 2007

Sportsmanship in Sports

After the recent "scandal" in the NFL involving the Patriots cheating during week 1, I finally realized how disappointed I am with the lack of sportsmanship in sports today. Furthermore, I am disappointed with our cultural acceptance of these types of behavior.

My initial reactions to hearing the cheating news were:
  1. Of all the teams/coaches in the league, no surprise to me that it was Bill Belichick
  2. Amazed to hear that someone would be so forward in doing so
Now to be honest, Bill Belichick has always rubbed me the wrong way. I'm not sure if is his horrible attire on games days, or just his overall demeanor, but something bugged me. This news makes me want to believe that my distaste for the man went beyond such a nasty looking sweatshirt and I could sense that he was bad (and not the Michael Jackson "bad"...oh, wait, I mean not the 1980s Michael Jackson "bad").

Okay, so I don't like Bill Belichick, but him aside why weren't the Patriots forced to forfeit their game? Why is football (more importantly sports) any different than everyday life?

Caught cheating on a test - FAIL!
Stealing from you company - FIRED! (probably JAIL TIME)
Cheating during a game - WRITE A CHECK?!? (oh and you lose a draft pick)

Does the integrity of a sport have a price tag? If so, then isn't that saying that if people financially pay that specific price they are exempt from rules and regulations?

The even bigger annoyance is people's willingness to make excuses or accept this behavior. The first lessons we teach children as they play sports is that "winning isn't everything", "cheaters never win", etc. But when discussing the same sports at different levels (high school, college, and professional), many people's "values" change. For Americans winning is becoming "everything" and the "playing of the game" is becoming meaningless.

Sports are trivial activities, but serve great value to many. There is no reason we shouldn't hold people to the same standards in sports as we do in the rest of life. In fact, I would argue that since sports are trivial, they should be held to even higher standards because ultimately it doesn't matter. As a whole, we all need to keep sportsmanship at the forefront of sports and expect it and promote it instead of ignoring it and pushing it aside.


Unknown said...

Often I think that the lack of integrity shown in sports is a reflection of a deeper character flaw, and it comes out in sports precisely because, as you said, "they don't matter".

Sometimes these people are able to keep this attitude in check in their day-to-day lives. But all too often the people who are jerks on the court/field/etc. are the same people getting ahead in business by a rigorous philosophy of alternately glory-hogging and playing the blame shell game.

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