Here’s a post on the disintegration of good sportsmanship in both athletics and politics, written by Patrick Rigney, a retired California law enforcement investigator who is also a good friend of mine. Let him know what you think in comments below.
Good Sportsmanship and US
All of us were shocked and appalled at what happened to Brian Stow, a Giant’s fan attacked in the parking lot of a Los Angeles Dodger game in Chavez Ravine. We should be; partisan thugs attacked a baseball fan attending an “away” game in support his home team. This also hits us hard because we think, “this could happen to me”.
I think this goes to an ever-deepening problem that I’ve seen evolving over the years.
When I grew up, coaches stressed good sportsmanship, the fact that your opponent was worthy of respect and to denigrate them was to devalue your own effort on the field. There were always a few coaches and players that went beyond that pale, the win at any cost folks, but these were decidedly in the minority. I played rugby for many years with the San Francisco Rugby club and one of the things I liked most about the game was you were encouraged to fraternize with the opponent after the match.
As I grew older and had kids, I attended or coached their games. It appeared to me that change was in the wind. There were several games where the parents were a problem. On one occasion I had to break up two fathers that were about to exchange blows over a disputed call in a little league baseball game. As I pushed them apart I kept yelling the kids were watching US. All the while a bunch of nine-year-old boys were standing on the field in shock.
In my mind, it isn’t any stretch at all to say this has also occurred in our politics. Our country is the most polarized I have ever known and it isn’t getting any better. Republicans blame Democrats for our problems and vice versa. I have heard people refer to Republicans as Nazis and others call Democrats “pinkos’ or traitors. Neither side is willing to admit that although they may disagree, their opponent is worthy of respect and has humanity. How does this foster an atmosphere where we can work together to solve our problems?
Our country has always had a tradition of ridiculing politicos. Poking fun at our president is as American as can be, fostered by a former emigrant population who came here to find freedom. That freedom is embodied in our ability to point our fingers at elected officials and laugh. And laugh and laugh.
No one is laughing now. The vitriol aimed at former President Bush and current President Obama is done with raised fists and clenched jaws. There is no fun in it; it is meant to be mean and hurtful. An example I saw the day after murderer Bin Laden reaped a killers’ reward was MSNBC slamming the former president for not bringing him to justice, using sound bytes and film clips in a manner that disgusted me. Not to be out done, Fox news the following day ripped President Obama using many of the same tactics.
My take? Everyone, EVERYONE should give the President credit for gutsy decision making. I don’t think many world leaders would have sent a SEAL team into a hostile environment to make sure they got the right man. I believe most would have used some sort of “smart” munition to destroy that compound. But I digress.
I don’t know what the future of our country will hold if we can’t engage each other in respectful dialogue to resolve our problems. I know many people, people of good will, that REFUSE to acknowledge a position in opposition to their own. It hurts me on a personal level because I love what this country stands for….equality and justice for ALL, not just those who we agree with. If we don’t find that common ground, we will no longer be a unified nation but a series of angry camps. We will be a nation of bad sportsmen.