Sportsmanship

West Sussex County Times Article

Rain or shine, there is nowhere I would rather be in June than in England, and one of the reasons is the fantastic sport.

But those who paid around £100 for a ticket for the tennis final at Queen's on Sunday were bitterly disappointed.

It wasn't the weather which spoilt the game, but bad sportsmanship.  In a fit of rage, the Argentinian player David Nalbandian kicked an advertising sign and injured a line   judge sitting behind it.

He was disqualified and heavily fined - and rightly so.

I've grown to enjoy John McEnroe's commentary, and he was a great player.

But while "you cannot be serious!" may now be a catchphrase, the signal sent to generations of sports players and fans was that a display of angry rudeness towards the umpire was acceptable.

It wasn't, and it isn't.  Bad sportsmanship corrodes the ethos of any game.  And sports personalities are role models, on and off the field.  Their behaviour should be exemplary, not worse than we'd expect in a school playground.

I've heard stories of amateur referees in local football matches up and down the country enduring abuse that makes my hair stand on end.  And it's not just the players.  Parents on the sidelines sometimes behave worse than their children.

I'm not an apologist for the days of the gifted but half-hearted amateur, or the idea that winning doesn't really matter.  In these days of highly competitive sport, our players and teams need the will to win - and rediscovering that will has led to success.  I want England to have the grit and determination to win in Euro 2012.

But the way that a game is won matters.

Recently I was privileged to meet Natasha Jonas, the first ever British female boxer to qualify for the Olympics.  I could not have been more impressed by this young woman, and her example is an inspiration for young people from the same tough city background as hers.

I wish Natasha and her fellow members of Team GB every possible success in the Olympics.  But as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time, Muhammed Ali, once said: "I never thought about losing, but now that it's happened, the only thing is to do it right."


Document type

Articles

Published

21 June 2012

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