Two athletes from opposing teams shake hands in an act of sportsmanship, which can often be lost when playing sports. Cartoon by Sunčana Pavlić.
Athletes must remember good sportsmanship, even when things go wrong on the field.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, sportsmanship is “conduct (such as fairness, respect for one’s opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport.”
For most athletes, sportsmanship is taught at a young age in rec ball but can be lost once they enter the travel team or high school level of competition.
Trash talk is pretty much inevitable at the high school level. When it comes to rival games or region games, there’s a lot of hype, but also a lot of competitivity. When the pressure rises, so does the level of trash talk.
In contact sports especially, trash talking can go wrong. Players and coaches getting ejected from the game, physical violence between teams, suspensions, off-the-field violence and more can all result due to unsportsmanlike conduct.
As a softball player at the varsity high school level, sportsmanship is hard to find. I remember my freshman year, we played a team that would not stop trash talking. They would scream cheers about how bad our pitcher was doing and would yell, “This ain’t no game.”
It got so bad that the crowd starting yelling at each other. My coach always tells us to stay, “Classy, not trashy”, even if another team is trash talking us because us retaliating never helps, but it’s hard to not fight back. Playing against teams like that makes the game no fun for anyone.
However, sportsmanship is not dead. On August 21, during the 2017 Little League World Series, Venezuela defeat ed the Dominican Republic 3-2 resulting in the Dominican Republic being eliminated from the tournament. Venezuela’s Omar Romero hit a walk-off two-run triple to end the game.
After the game, Edward Uceta, the Dominican Republic’s pitcher, laid on the mound sobbing while the Venezuelan team celebrated. But instead of joining the rest of the team, Romero and his two coaches went to the mound to embrace Uceta.
Though this was an elimination game and Romero’s hit won Venezuela the game, his sportsmanship is what he will be remembered by.
Sportsmanship, no matter the age or game, needs to be remembered when playing sports.