March Madness: What Happen To Sportsmanship?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

As March madness begins to kick into full swing and the office pools start to form I sit here pondering the question of sportsmanship. Before we get into the frenzied muck of selecting teams and pounding our chests as to which conference is truly the best, let us examine the part of the game that is apparently slipping away, sportsmanship.

A little history first; I have actually played the game, I am no stranger to competition, I even coached junior pro for several years, so yes, I am a basketball fan that understands the game. I come from a state that has led the statistics in most basketball records including; the worst defeat (Duke versus Kentucky) and the one of the best come backs (LSU versus Kentucky). I grew up being taught basketball in the Rupp era and sportsmanship was part of the training. So where has it gone to?

Sportsmanship is excepting your opponent for just that, your opponent. I have always been coached that the stronger the opponent the stronger you, as a team, become. So the question here is why do fans feel the need to boo an opponent? Do they think it instills fear in the visiting team? I can tell you as an ex-player it does not, in fact it does just the opposite. I would suggest to you that it only pumps them up higher. A good coach already has his/her team ready for just such an act, so if you truly want to rattle a visiting team do the opposite. Next time try one of these; either sit there stone cold silent or applaud, the coach did not prepare the team for this I promise.

The other part of sportsmanship is excepting your defeats, it is not making excuses as to why the “W” is not in your column. The poor little guys out there wearing the striped shirts do not win or lose a ballgame. They can take a team out of rhythm but they do not win or lose a game. They are essentially part of the playing court and the rules state it as such. There is no such thing as a make up call, get over it. If a coach by the second half has not made adjustments to allow for what ever calls are being made, then that is coaching not officiating. When you look back at the Kentucky loss to Duke it is the last second shot and no one defending the incoming ball that everyone remembers, no one remembers the bad calls.

The last part of sportsmanship is the game itself; try to keep in mind these are 18 to 20 year olds playing a game you are betting on. We should take this into account when placing our money down. It is a game, not life or death and on any given Sunday, any given team can win, this is what competition is all about. The game requires that you shake hands at the closing buzzer, that you hold your head high knowing you did the best you could, and the game requires you to realize you are now better and stronger for competing. 

When filling out your brackets remember it is a competition of teenagers not the WWF. Support your team, just do it in a sportsman like manner and above all enjoy the game.

Going UP