When it comes to sports – and more importantly, how athletes present themselves both on and off the field – times have changed a lot over the past few years.
With Soccer Parents getting into fights with coaches over why their kids aren’t getting enough field time, fighting-enducing trash-talking during a game, athletes climbing into the stands to punch out hecklers, or even some sports where the scoreboard is being taken away entirely “because kids don’t want the pressure to have to win” — the reason for sports to exist in the first place are slowly falling down by the wayside as the “spirit of competition” gives way to “winning at all costs”.
A survey of 1,500 athletes, age 18-30, agrees that this is a disturbing trend. 68% of those surveyed said that they felt that sportsmanship is on the decline, and that sports are not nearly as much fun now as it was when they were younger. Some of the reasons they gave for the lack of fun in their current competitions included:
- 79% said that showing good sportsmanship is not as important as it used to be
- 81% said that today’s athletes would rather win the game than play completely fairly
- 73% thought that their athletic peers believe it’s cheating only if they’re caught
- 86% of younger athletes say they’ve seen an increase in trash-talk during games as they’ve gotten older. 81% indicated that a lot of that stemmed from less respect for game officials as well.
- 45% said that the coaches were equally at fault with not being a good sport and focusing solely on winning.
It’s because of this trend away from the fun of sports that CHAMPION Athleticwear has decided to create an ATHLETES’ CREED, to bring back clean competition to sports of all types. If you have an idea or philosophy that you believe should be added to the ATHLETES’ CREED, then you have until August 6th to make your submission.
Some of the submissions that have already been made include:
- Once you stop playing for the love of the game, the game will stop loving you.
- The joy of competing can be just as satisfying as the joy of winning.
- If you’re too busy being afraid to fail, then you’ll be too busy to have fun.
- Play for your teammates. Selflessness is the number one characteristic of successful teams.
- Your game face and your best behavior face should be the same face.
- Respect your opponent; never taunt or intimidate.
- Respect your coach. You will never agree with all their decisions but understand their level of commitment to you and your teammates and the unselfishness of their time
- Respect officials and their decisions; understand that officials sometimes make mistakes, just like you
- It’s only worth playing if you’re willing to work hard, and play the game the right way
- Learn how to win and lose graciously when you’re young and the stakes aren’t nearly as high – it will be significantly easier to do so in the real world, which is full of wins and losses
- Success is failure turned inside out. In order to be a winner, you must first experience what it feels like to lose
- Your post-game attitude should never reveal whether you won or lost
- When competing, don’t let your emotions get the best of you where your sport loses respect for you
- Good sportsmanship and respect for your opponents is often reciprocal. Give and you’ll usually receive
And for those who doubt that sports builds character, the whole “sportsmanship over sports” credo really was laid out with this year’s recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year’s ESPYs, the ED THOMAS FAMILY.
Here is their acceptance speech.