Poor Sportsmanship or My Beef with Not Even Showing Up

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, on days when I have a soccer game, my mood is happier as I look forward to playing a good game.  The team I’m on prides itself in being a good bunch of guys, not or skill level (though we’ve got plenty of that, too), but our attitudes and sportsmanship.  We very rarely have a disparaging word for each other on the pitch or off.  We may gripe at the ref now and then, but not to the point that we pick up yellow cards for dissent.  And we don’t take cheap shots at the opposing players.  We play hard and fouls happen, but we don’t play to injure.  We are gracious when we win and don’t sulk when we lose…and we show up for every game regardless of our record…unlike the team of losers who chose not to come out and play their final game because they had no shot at making the playoffs.  Who does that?  And it had to be pre-coordinated amongst their team because not one of the poor sports showed up.  It wasn’t like it was starting to get close to start time and they are short enough players that they can’t play…not one player was at the field.

Based on knowing a few of the players for that team, as well as the age of a large part of the player in the league, I have to wonder if this is the kind of crappy sportsmanship and attitude kids are being taught in sports.  I can’t fathom not showing up for a game because my team has nothing to gain.  To that extent, my team could have not shown up.  We were already guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and, in all likelihood, were going to have to play tomorrow anyway, so why risk an injury to one of our players.  These two thought processes are what drive decisions in the professional arena of any sport nowadays…and it sucks.

If a team has nothing to gain by winning, but by losing they can position themselves better…the first pick in the NFL draft, for instance…why play hard.  Why put forth the effort?  Who cares that the loyal fans are paying ticket prices or exorbitant cable package prices to watch the games only to see second stringers?  And, on the flip side, why risk your star players when you already have things locked up?  A perfect example is the Chelsea vs. Liverpool match this past week.  Chelsea had virtually no chance of taking fourth place in the Premier League, but they will play for the UEFA Champions League title in another week, so the put in the first stringers who can’t play in the championship game and the second stringers…and Liverpool put a 4-1 beat down on them.  The same Liverpool team that Chelsea had beaten a week earlier for the FA Cup title.  Chelsea being one of my favorite teams, I was bummed to not see my favorite players in action and to see the team get whomped.

The other problem with pro sports doing these things is that it teaches kids that it’s okay to not play your hardest, to take a dive because this fight doesn’t really count and you should save your energy for later, that it’s okay to not even show up.  It’s teaching kids piss poor sportsmanship…and don’t even get me started on the prima donna chumps who take themselves more seriously than their teams.

Show up, play hard, be good sports!  That’s what sports, and life, is all about.


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