Guide to Sportsmanship: Lose with Grace, Win with Class

Posted by: Taylor Williams - October 17, 2013

As autumn creeps up in a multitude of vibrant colors and decreasing temperatures, so too comes one of the nation’s most beloved times of year—football season. It is the time of year when brothers become bitter rivals depending on their NFL allegiance and many a deep conversation ensues regarding Fantasy Football draft picks. It is also the perfect time to go over the rudimentary elements of good sportsmanship, both as a fan and as a player, as a man’s character is no better reflected than when thrown into the midst of a heated sporting event. With a multitude of parallels found between being successful in the real world and being success on the field, court, arena or any other sporting venue, it is important to remember that sportsmanship can easily be translated into other areas of your life.

As a Player

  • Win with class. Your winning performance has spoken for itself, so there is no need to gloat or rub it in the opposing team's face. Make sure to shake their hands and tell them good game, because inevitably someday you will be in their shoes. Which brings us to the next key point of sportsmanship…
  • Lose with grace. Due to the law of probability, it is extremely likely that you will lose at some point in your life. When you do lose, do so gracefully. Don’t cast the blame on fellow teammates or the officials and don’t accuse the winning team of cheating. Shake their hands and congratulate them, after all, it’s just a game.

As a Fan

  • Watch your alcohol intake. At a tailgate, it’s easy to accidentally have one beer too many and, with your newfound lack of inhibitions, unnecessarily lose your cool regarding a perceived bad call or play. It’s best to keep the alcohol to a minimum while watching a game to avoid confrontations that likely would not have taken place prior to drinking five beers.
  • Watch your language. There is absolutely no need to sound like a lurid sailor while cheering on your team, and in all likelihood if you are actually watching the game from the stands, you’ll be within earshot of children, so adjust your language accordingly. Also, if most professional sports require athletes to refrain from excessive foul language, it’s a safe bet that you should also keep it clean.
  • Respect opposing team. Since many sports fans take their fanhood and their team allegiance very seriously, a lot of booing and jeering takes place once the opposing team enters onto the field or court. This is unnecessary and tasteless. Focus on cheering for your own team and less on heckling the opposing team.
  • Respect other fans. Contrary to popular opinion, a stranger who is rooting for the opposing team is not in fact your sworn enemy. Actually, they are there for the same reason you are—to enjoy the game and cheer on their team. Don’t ruin the game and the experience for fans around you by running your mouth with a play-by-play commentary on why the officials are inept or how the coach is useless.
  • Respect the officials. The official’s job is not an easy one, where every mistake is followed by a thousand angry heckles. They are going to make mistakes, but it is important to keep in mind that while you may have an elevated view of the game and the jumbotron giving you slow-motion replays, the officials are viewing each play at eye level and watching the game happen in the blink of an eye. Cut them some slack; they are only human and without which you wouldn’t even be watching the game.
  • Support your team, win or lose. No one likes a fairweather fan. If you’re going to support your team, you do so win or lose, rain or shine. Even if they are losing and there are two minutes left on the clock, stay until the end to applaud your team as they run off the field.