In today’s world of stiff competition and hard-earned success, sportsmanship, per se, has taken a back seat. Nothing succeeds like success. In today’s professional world, a sportsperson would go to any extent to ensure success. Come what may, it is success that matters and sportsmanship is secondary.
What does one mean by sportsmanship? Sportsmanship does not only imply the act of participating in a game or a sport, it comprises the entire gamut of attitude and conduct befitting participants in a game. Fair play, courtesy, striving spirit and grace in losing are some qualities. Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 football world cup, John McEnroe’s tantrums on the lawn tennis court, or Trevor Chappell’s decision to bowl underarm in the Ashes series—sports has seen its fair share of unsportsmanlike behaviour.
At the arena of contest, it is only winning that matters, at whatever cost. This attitude needs to change. The paradigm must shift from winning to striving towards excellence. It is the society and the mindset at large that defines winning or losing. It is imperative to remember that there will be winners and losers in a game the important thing is to accept victory or defeat gracefully.
Sadly, the pressure of public expectations and overambitious yearnings ruin the clear vision of logic. The lure of financial contracts have converted playing fields into killing fields of stress and anxiety. Bribing and match fixing are charges that have cast a slur on a gentleman’s game like cricket. We hope to see better and more competitive sports in the future, where sports would be enjoyed for their own sake, with decreased importance being given to winning and losing.