Unsportsmanlike? Or Innocent Fun?


Sportsmanship: conduct (such as fairness, respect for one’s opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport.

We’ve all done it. Displayed not so becoming characteristics of unsportsmanlike behavior. Taunting the other team or a single opponent. Excessive celebration. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m the worlds worst excessive celebrator. I’m not used to winning. So on the off chance that I catch the football in a game, its not unusual to see me slam the ball to the ground and yell “In your face!”

But where is the line from innocently ribbing someone to just being plain rude. In my life, I’ve seen more sporting events than I can remember. From Little League to Professional and unsportsmanlike behavior is done at all levels.

So where does it start? How does it start? And how do you control it? Over the weekend while at a youth basketball game, I witnessed two kids from opposing teams both hit the ground. One child got up and walked away without offering a hand and a short moment later, the other child got up. One of my many sporting pet peeves is not offering a hand to any player on the ground. At that moment as I’m mumbling “how rude” under my breath, it hit me. I had never even vocalized to my OWN children, what it entailed to be a sportsmanlike player.

How did I miss that? My children have been involved in sports since they could walk but looking back, I never taught them to offer a hand or to kneel when a teammate got injured or to even check on that injured player after the game. I guess I always just assumed that their coach would teach them or that they should just use common sense. I know. I snickered when I wrote that last part too.

As an adult, sometimes we lose sight of the small things in life that deal with good sportsmanship. To go up to another human being and say “good job” for something they accomplished and wholeheartedly mean it. To notice someone knocked down in life and ask if they need help. So my thought is this. Where do you draw the line between innocent good-natured taunting and unsportsmanlike behavior?

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