SPORTSMANSHIP IN SPORTS: FOCUS ON REACHING CHILDREN NOW, WHEN THEY ARE YOUNG AND IMPRESSIONABLE
The aim is to help in the struggle for sportsmanship in sports by not only athletes but also by fans, teams, referees, corporate sponsors, and coaches, and, in particular, children who just now are beginning to learn.
Some of these children are now dreaming of being professional athletes later. What type of athletes will these children turn out to be? Will they conduct themselves as do the professional athletes of today? Or can we take steps to encourage them to act better, more evolved, more honest? If we are content to have our children act as do the athletes and the team directors of today, then let’s do nothing. But if we want something more, then let’s take some positive action now, for the benefit of the sports community.
SOME CURRENT ISSUES IN THE WORLD OF SPORTS
The issues which tend to tear our communities' social fabric include the following:
--Drugs, in particular in cycling and track and field. The best cyclists in the world (Tour de France winners, Giro d’Italia winners, time trial world champions) of nearly all countries, including, without limitation, the United States, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Belgium and the best track and field sprinters (100m world record holders, Olympic champions, world champions) are all accused of having improved performance with drugs. It was not that long ago, in a Rimini hotel, that an Italian cyclist, champion of the Tour de France and of the Giro d’Italia, died due to a cocaine overdose. In the USA, the “national past time”, baseball, is played under a cloud of drug use and accusations.
•Game fixing by officials and team managers in soccer in Europe.
•Illegal betting on NBA basketball games by NBA referees.
•Secret payments to tennis players to not compete in certain tournaments.
•Faking contact in soccer games by players, and flopping to fabricate a foul.
•Racial taunting by fans at soccer games in Europe.
•Secret videotaping and stealing of opposing teams’ signs in NFL football games.
•Illegal delivery of information of opponent’s car details in Formula 1 racing.
OUR ROLE IN THE SOLUTION
These acts by athletes, fans, team managers, and sponsors tend to tear apart the sporting community, which is a problem.
But sport always provides an opportunity. Since sports are played across national lines, they can divide us of course but they also afford an opportunity to bring us together. Then do not have to be destructive, they can be constructive. They have been constructive before and they will be in cycling again.
Drugs in sport is the essence of unsportsmanship. Secret drug-taking for personal gain betrays one's competitors, one's team, and the fans--in sum, the drug-taking betrays the sport. LifeRoots is for open, honest, hard-nosed competition with the best athlete winning, not the athlete with the best drugs. Secrecy, hidden lives, and sneaking-about to get and take drugs honors no one, much less the drug-taker.
Sport has lost some of its solidarity that one athlete would naturally feel for his fellow competitor--the rival is going through basically the same thing he is, knows the same joys, sorrows, wins, losses, training, injuries, recuperation, worries, triumphs, dedication, weaknesses, courage, doubts. The notion of solidarity between competitors has been eroded by pressures and temptations of consumerism. By some, sport has become something to be consumed, not something to be honored.
On the other hand, in sport, there always has been an element of common good. That element is being downsized as the focus on personal advancement becomes more enhanced--the community of sport and the community of athletes be damned so long as I get my wins, my records, my glory, my cash.
To compete to win is always the key element for any athlete in every competition. To compete to win is the principal inspiration every athlete must have. But to compete only so as to win is not enough. The athlete competes also to bring not only honor to himself but to us all.
JOIN: LifeRoots Foundation
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