Sportsmanship is defined as ethical, appropriate, polite and fair behavior while participating in a game or athletic event. It is very concerning to see fewer athletes at all levels showing good sportsmanship. I believe someone who performs at a high level in their sport cannot be defined as a good athlete without displaying good sportsmanship.
I see people admiring athletes who are performing at the top of their sport, but these people fail to realize the lack of sportsmanship these athletes show. Many professional athletes continuously work hard at their craft which in turn, gives kids more motivation to succeed in their own craft. Despite the work these specific athletes show, they can act poorly on and off the field, giving people a false reasoning to like these “respected” athletes.
As an athlete myself, I think the most important quality in an athlete is their resilience and their ability to fight through painful and stressful moments at any given time. An athlete’s ability to push through losses and setbacks determines the strength of their character.
Tennis is a prime example of a sport where the lack of sportsmanship is very obvious. Tennis is one of the many sports where a player, all alone on the court, has to come up with a strategy to outwit, outplay, and outlast their opponent. Regardless of the high amount of mental strength needed to perform at the highest level in tennis, more players at the professional level are showing less and less sportsmanship. Smashing rackets, using profanity, and even giving up are just some of the many examples of poor sportsmanship and class tennis players display and can be applied to other sports in similar ways. I find these acts to be disturbing and irresponsible.
Recently in professional tennis, world number 14 Nick Kyrgios received a two month suspension from the Association of Tennis Professionals. Kyrgios, only at 21 years old, did not show 100% effort in a 6-3 6-1 loss to Mischa Zverev in a tournament in Shanghai, China. Kyrgios admitted after the match that he “took the easy way out”.
Even though Kyrgios apologized for his actions, he has been well-known in the tennis world for his bad behavior. Many tennis analysts believe Kyrgios has the talent to move up from number 14 to number 1 in the world, but they mention that he does not have the mental capacity to reach it. People still love Kyrgios and see him as a role model for the way he plays the game without realizing the negative actions he commits on the tennis court. I see Nick Kyrgios as a tennis player with extraordinary talent, but I do not consider him a role model. He practically gave up the match, and it frightens me that people seem to enjoy the way Kyrgios plays. Kyrgios has no resilience or fight, and I do not see him ever being the number 1 tennis player in the world.
I think awards in college and professional sports are becoming more and more corrupt. For instance, the Heisman Award in college football is awarded to the athlete who performs best on the football field on a consistent basis but does not include actions off the field. Even though 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston was accused of shoplifting and rape at the time, his abilities on the football field made people forget about his off-the-field actions. The NBA, NFL, MLB, and other professional leagues who give out MVP awards disregard off-the-field actions, allowing players like Winston to take advantage.
Even though I feel like professional sports leagues are not doing enough to stress sportsmanship in their sports, the NFL made one solid rule change in their penalty system. If one player reaches two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, that player will be ejected for the remainder of the game. This is giving me hope that possibly more professional organizations will make more changes in their rule systems.
I am wondering now if an athlete can even be defined as an athlete if they cannot show proper sportsmanship on and off the field.