Good sportsmanship is something that every player should be aware of, no matter their sport, position or skill level. From the best player of their generation to those just starting out, sports can only remain pleasurable whilst competitive if players show respect to each other.
Examples of good sportsmanship include encouraging everyone on a team, cheering, clapping, shaking hands or hi fiving; all of these actions help to raise morale and keep things friendly even if there are frictions during a game or training. Players should also be respectful towards the opposition and their fans.
It’s important that we all share and support positive messages about good sportsmanship, including:
- “It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game” – Grantland Rice, early 20th-century American sportswriter
- “True sportsmanship is knowing that you need your opponent because without him or her, there is no game. Acknowledging that your opponent holds the same deep-rooted aspirations and expectations as you. Knowing that, win or lose, you will walk off the course with pride. Always taking the high road. And always, always, always being a good sport.” - Lorii Myers, No Excuses, The Fit Mind-Fit Body Strategy Book
- “Sportsmanship isn't about criticizing the "ONE" who didn't win on "That ONE"day... it's about appreciating and supporting their hard work amidst failures!!!” - Akansh Malik, author of Love Heals Everything
- “One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it” – Knute Rockne, Norwegian-American football player and coach at the University of Notre Dame
- “I would prefer even to lose with honour than to win by cheating” – Sophocles
Examples of Good Sportsmanship
Parents, coaches, family and other team members are all responsible for helping to inspire good sportsmanship from a young age; there are various ways of doing this depending on the player’s age and chosen sport. Famous players also take a responsibility for how they act in the spotlight; some famous examples of good sportsmanship include:
Ashes Series, 2005
This famous shot captures English cricketer Andrew Flintoff congratulating Australian Brett Lee for the fight that Australia had put up during the 2nd Test, which saw Australia all out at 308 vs England’s 407 in the first innings. Despite a strong Australian comeback, England won the second innings with a two-run victory.
According to Lee, Flintoff’s exact words were something like, “bad luck mate, we tried very hard to get you out but we didn't think it would come down to the last two or three runs, but I will see you inside for a beer after”.
New Zealand's v Wales Test match, Wales tour 2003
Tana Umaga, New Zealand’s captain of the All Blacks, was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for outstanding sportsmanship by the International Fair Play Committee; he was the first New Zealander to win this award. He was also presented with a figurine to honour the display of sportsmanship by the Welsh Rugby Union.
The situation behind this was that the All Blacks forward Jerry Collins accidentally knocked Welsh captain Colin Charvis out in a tackle. As he lay unconscious on the floor, Umaga left his position in an attacking move, ran to Charvis, removed his mouth guard and placed him in the recovery position, ensuring he didn’t choke. New Zealand did go on to win, 55-3.
Ric Charlesworth, 2001
Australian sports coach Ric Charlesworth was awarded a Citizenship award in 2001 for his dedication to the improvement of sportsmanship in hockey. From his early start in the game at school where he was promoted to Christ Church Grammar School’s first XI and also a member of the PSA Hockey Cup (now the Ray House Hockey Cup) in 1966-67, he has always been passionate about promoting good sportsmanship and charity in the game.
He also coached the Australian Women’s hockey team the Hockeyroos from 1993-2000, acted as a technical advisor to both the men’s and women’s Indian hockey teams, acted as high performance manager for the New Zealand Hockey team and an advisor to the hockey selection committee by the Indian Olympic Association. He then coached the Kookaburras, the Australian men’s national hockey team, from 2009-2014, retiring after they won the 2014 Hockey Cup in the Netherlands.
Liverpool vs Arsenal, 1997
Robbie Fowler won a FIFA commemoration in 1997 for his honesty by telling the referee he had tripped and lost his footing instead of David Seaman, who had been given a penalty as the referee thought he had purposely tried to bring Fowler down. The referee refused to change his decision, but Fowler was still awarded the commendation. Liverpool went on to win 2-1.