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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/29/14

What ever happened to good sportsmanship?

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Good sportsmanship isn't so good anymore. It's been replaced by bad sportsmanship at epidemic levels. Oftentimes, bad sportsmanship is so toxic it even involves people being seriously injured, automobiles being overturned and set on fire, and young children being vomited upon, all in the name of winning a game.

Because of the media, the most flagrant instances of poor sportsmanship seem to occur in the big arenas of college and professional sports. It's almost getting to be a modern-day version of feeding the Christians to the lions. Being a world-class athlete isn't so world class these days. But bad sportsmanship is escalating in youth sports, too.

There's a new question to ponder: Is allowing Junior or Missy to play peewee football or try out for tee ball a good thing?

In early October 2013, Kentucky opted for its high schools not to have post-game handshakes for all sports. After three years' worth of more than two dozen physical confrontations ensued after competitors came together to consummate good sportsmanship with the after-the-game handshake, this benign symbol is no longer part of the game. Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett admitted on his organization's website that it is "disappointing" for such a drastic decree to take effect, but it has become a necessity. (1)


Richard Sherman's rant after his Seattle Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers is an example of bad sportsmanship at its worst, but is bad sportsmanship so prevalent these days that it's accepted?
Richard Sherman's rant after his Seattle Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers is an example of bad sportsmanship at its worst, but is bad sportsmanship so prevalent these days that it's accepted?
(Image by (From Wikimedia) Jeffrey Beall, Author: Jeffrey Beall)
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Emotions are often frazzled and frenzied after a tough athletic battle and it only takes one irate competitor to set off a group brawl. As Knute Rockne once said, "One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than a hundred teaching it." But in today's athletic arena, little lip service is being given to Rockne's principle. Another famous saying seems to pervade: "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." Even with the origins of this famous quote, there's bickering that continues regarding who it rightly belongs to: Some claim it's Henry Russell "Red" Sanders, UCLA Bruins football coach; while others attribute it to Green Bay Packer Head Coach Vince Lombardi. Don't get into a bar fight over its origination, however; it's not worth ending up in jail on felony charges.

Sound ridiculous? Things of this nature are happening. In early October 2013, three people were stabbed at a bar in Beaver County, Pa., with the impetus of this violence being a dispute over another's wearing of an NBA basketball jersey. Although it only took about 15 seconds, one of the victims was stabbed six times and ended up in Allegheny General Hospital in serious condition. The two attackers, Maryland natives who'd just moved to the Pittsburgh area, admitted they hate the Steelers and Penguins. Well, it all came to consequences of several counts of aggravated assault and attempted homicide. (2)

Of course, there are always rationalizations for this sort of violent antisocial behavior. According to a study conducted in Spain, men can blame "hormone spikes" for such antisocial acts as bar fights after altercations ensue over sports issues.

Researching male and female fans who watched soccer matches, it was revealed that elevated levels of testosterone and cortisol increase during times of stress. This leads to higher levels of pure chemicals (those manufactured by the human body itself, like testosterone and cortisol). This study claims "social self-preservation" can be blamed for antisocial outbreaks, particularly when a male fan's team is losing. "The testosterone surge is tied to status, too. Apparently, testosterone levels increase during situations that are challenging . . ." (3)

So if you're up on attempted homicide and assault charges after busting up your local sports bar and your violent acts put some opposing fans in the hospital or morgue, let your attorney know of these scientific findings. It might just help get you off some nasty consequences from the guy wearing the black dress.

Even Heisman Trophy winners get into bar fights, making them part of the American tradition. In July 2013, Texas A & M Quarterback Johnny Manziel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of "failing to identify himself to police" after an alleged fight at a college bar. A disorderly conduct, along with using a fake driver's license charges, were dismissed, according to the Bryan-College Station Eagle, Texas A & M's student newspaper. (4) - Just pawn this off to the old adage, Boys will be boys, and It happens to the best of "em.

Not all incidents of bad sportsmanship that turn into crimes are in the Mickey Misdemeanor category. On Nov. 30, 2013, Adrian Laroze Briskey, 28, killed 36-year-old Michelle Shepherd. Briskey was livid that the victim did not seem upset over Auburn's upsetting the Crimson Tide by a 34-28 score. [With no time left on the clock, Auburn ran back a missed Alabama field goal for more than 100 yards, killing any hopes of Alabama playing in the national championship game.] (5)

"She said we weren't real Alabama fans because it didn't bother us they lost. And then she started shooting," said Nakesa Shepard, the victim's sister. "It was over a football game. I'm never going to forget it because she died in my arms." (5)

The YouTube craze and even the possibility of becoming famous on TMZ burns the bonfire of bad sportsmanship. Baltimore Ravens Receiver Torrey Smith was quoted on as he was working on a Habitat for Humanity project, that if it wasn't for TMZ's reporting that some lady named Sweet Pea emerged from a party bus and cracked Ravens teammate Jacoby Jones alongside the head with a booze bottle, nothing would've come of the incident.

"I think it's funny that we're doing this, building a home, one day after everybody found out about this other thing. We all know it comes with the territory," Smith said.

YouTube is filled with videos depicting horrible sportsmanship: Everything from a girl running for first base and hitting the opposing team's first basemen so hard it could easily have led to paralysis; to a karate sparring incident wherein the loser gets into an altercation with the head referee after losing his fight, then grabs the championship trophy and tries to storm out of the arena with it, fighting with innumerable people and destroying the garish opulent prize in the process. (See:

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Samuel Vargo worked as a full-time reporter and editor for more than 20 years at a number of daily newspapers and business journals. He was also an adjunct English professor at colleges and universities in Ohio, West Virginia, Mississippi (more...)

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