By Rachel Neumann
Special to The Catholic Times
If you had the choice between a fleeting trophy or permanent honor and respect, which would you choose?
Sportsmanship brings the latter which correlates to strong characteristics and work ethic. These will, in turn, yield successes throughout all the years of an athlete’s life.
From my experience participating in high school athletics, sportsmanship has helped me come to a greater appreciation of the games I play. Good sports play for the love of the game and not merely for recognition. If recognition is the only motivation, the game is played with shallow intentions; all semblances of integrity, morality and respect would be lost. Good sports recognize the person in their opponent, instead of only seeing them as an opposing force to overcome and defeat. This realization is essential for all players to be treated with the dignity every human being deserves.
I would not be where I am today if winning was my only incentive. Thinking only of the outcome would have made it easy to become discouraged, uninterested and disappointed. Instead, focusing on performing my best from the race course to the tennis court impels me to always work hard and enjoy the opportunity I have been given to play on well respected teams. Before stepping up to the starting gate or base line, I remind myself of the larger entities I represent. The way in which I present myself is a direct reflection on the names both on the front and back of my uniforms.
Sportsmanship is not just reserved for the athletic realm; it is also carries over into every aspect of an athlete’s life. The same qualities necessary for sportsmanship also contribute to a strong character and academic success. Self-control, equality and honesty are all necessary for achieving both on and off the playing field; this consistency is rooted in one’s character. Character is the gradual building of a pattern of actions and thought that define who someone is as a person. By deciding to act in each and every game, match, or meet with sportsmanship, an athlete experiences personal growth that will last a lifetime. These individuals are not just building strong bodies but a strong character as well. The qualities of sportsmanship exercised on the field will become engrained in one’s character and it will become innate to act in such a dignified manner.
The characteristics that accompany sportsmanship are imperative for life beyond sports. Just as athletes must respect their coaches, referees and other players, one must respect co-workers, customers and employers. The humility to be genuinely happy for others’ success is important because it shows graciousness and modesty. Also leadership and teamwork from the field can be carried over and applied to the future workplace. How athletes act on the field today undeniably influences their actions of tomorrow because winning is only for a moment, but sportsmanship is for a lifetime.