What is Sportsmanship?


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What is Sportsmanship?

Postby Marlow » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:25 am

This badminton 'scandal' is blowing up in the media. Do you agree with the decision to DQ (even suspend) the women who intentionally lost in order to get into a more favorable part of the bracket?

I totally disagree. If the object is to WIN (which seems to be the crux of the matter) then trying as hard as you can to WIN is indeed kosher. If that means you play for a tie in soccer or tank a game where you're trying to conserve energy for the next round, or trying to position yourself best in the bracket, then that is what you SHOULD do!

Why should you try to make it MORE difficult on yourself to win?

[all you people in favor of tactical racing should be on my side here - slowing down the pace from the front (not trying your hardest early on) in order to set up your kick, is the T&F equivalent in my mind. As much as I want a fast race, and as much as I criticize 'tactical' races, I certainly wouldn't DQ them!!]
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:51 am

Marlow wrote:If that means you play for a tie in soccer or tank a game where you're trying to conserve energy for the next round, or trying to position yourself best in the bracket, then that is what you SHOULD do!

I disagree with the DQ, which means I agree with you. Once you've made it to the next round, you've earned the right to conserve your energy.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby preston » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:13 am

I consider racing and badminton different, that said...

- The Badminton teams deserved to be banned
- pacing should be illegal on the track
- Distance runners who are running too slow, or "tactically" racing, should be removed from the track.
- Losing games on purpose in a round-robin or tournament format where you are not eliminated should result in a ban...

The only reason we try to keep sport "honest" is that the one thing that is WORSE than someone cheating is someone losing on purpose; it's the reason why the penalty for point shaving in baseball (and other sports) is worse than the penalty for corked bats and scuffed balls.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:19 am

preston wrote:- Losing games on purpose in a round-robin or tournament format where you are not eliminated should result in a ban...

What about American Football; teams that have already made the playoffs frequently rest their best players. If they lose because of that, would you ban them from the playoffs as well?
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby preston » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:23 am

j-a-m wrote:
preston wrote:- Losing games on purpose in a round-robin or tournament format where you are not eliminated should result in a ban...

What about American Football; teams that have already made the playoffs frequently rest their best players. If they lose because of that, would you ban them from the playoffs as well?

Every time this happens NFL fans/commentators are pissed; however, there is normally one problem with this: the teams don't change their position. What the athletes in Badminton did that is wrong is that they re-drew the heats and that goes against sportsmanship. Yes, I'm not Roger Goodell but I would ban them.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby lonewolf » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:25 am

I could argue either side of this but how is this different than the "honest effort" rule in track?
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:28 am

preston wrote:Every time this happens NFL fans/commentators are pissed;

Another example from American Football is that teams get a better draft spot if they have a worse record, last season frequently referred to as "Andrew Luck sweepstakes". And sports media seems to be just fine with that.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby Master Po » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:41 am

With Marlow's and j-a-m's points noted as valid, I agree w preston regarding the dq of the badminton teams. Not sure what I think about the other cases preston mentions for dq -- I would have to think about those -- but as for the badminton case, absolutely dq.

Speaking generally (I know there are exceptions that can always be cited) -- the cases across sports we're looking at, from a runner/thrower just doing enough to get a Q and advance, to a playoff-bound team resting its best players at the end of the season, to the badminton case -- are all in an "extended family" relationship, I suppose. But, I think we can trust the fans on this: They don't boo the runner/thrower who earns the Q in a prelim with a less than 100% effort, because they know that doesn't violate the letter or the spirit of the event. As for playoff-bound teams resting their best, most of the time fans might be a bit disappointed to see the 2nd team in play rather than the stars, but they most of the time get it. Moreover, those 2nd-teamers on the field are typically playing their best. In any case, the playoff-bound team isn't trying to lose. Which extends the analogies out to the badminton case, in which the players were actually trying to lose, and were really making a mockery of their sport, on its largest stage. It's too bad that the tournament was structured to facilitate such actions, but even with that known, the behaviour of the players/coaches was egregious, and required an exceptional response -- thus, disqualification. What they did was more like "throwing" a match than simply not giving 100% in the process of advancement.

As for the sport of badminton, which I realize hardly seen or understood in the USA, it is fantastic to watch at the championship level, and it is a huge sport in East and Southeast Asia (and probably some other places, too, I don't know). What those athletes did was an embarrassment to their sport. Again, too bad the tournament was structured that way, and that needs to be changed, but these matches were a violation of what the word "competition" means. Anyone who saw any of the "competition" (and heard the crowd's response) can see that -- even if it was technically permissible, it was bad. The crowd got it right, and the officials did, too.

And, I realize that reasonable people can disagree on this. Marlow's and j-a-m's points are legit, but I'm with preston on this one.
Last edited by Master Po on Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby preston » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:44 am

j-a-m wrote:
preston wrote:Every time this happens NFL fans/commentators are pissed;

Another example from American Football is that teams get a better draft spot if they have a worse record, last season frequently referred to as "Andrew Luck sweepstakes". And sports media seems to be just fine with that.

Actually, many people in the media complained about this. This is the reason why the NBA changed their draft process so that the worst team has the best shot, but not the only shot.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby Marlow » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:48 am

lonewolf wrote:I could argue either side of this but how is this different than the "honest effort" rule in track?

That rule, by and LARGE, has gone away. Our state used to have it, but finally gave in and got rid of it. I never even understood that rule. If you are NOT giving an 'honest' effort, who is that hurting but yourself? Wherever you are in the competition, YOU have earned that position and it is yours to forfeit if you wish.

In our post-season, many times a runner will double in one round and then forfeit one of the places in the next round in order to focus on one event. Unfortunately, the state assn is not smart enough to allow runners to declare their forfeiture, so the next finisher can move up. We're working on that at the committee level.

There are tons of cases in sports from the grass-roots to (obviously) the top level where the SMART thing to do is not compete all out. Unless you are preston and willing to BAN everyone who does that, you are being very hypocritical to look the other way when it's happening elsewhere.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:54 am

Master Po wrote:Speaking generally (I know there are exceptions that can always be cited) -- the cases across sports we're looking at, from a runner/thrower just doing enough to get a Q and advance, to a playoff-bound team resting its best players at the end of the season, to the badminton case -- are all in an "extended family" relationship, I suppose.

One aspect that I'm still missing in this discussion is that it can hurt a third team. Let's say team A has already made the next round; teams B and C both still have a chance. Now team A doesn't give an honest effort and accordingly loses to team B. Because of that team B advances and team C doesn't. That's where I consider the line to be crossed.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby Master Po » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:16 am

that's a good point, j-a-m. Not all of these things can be worked out in the structure of a competition. I have seen such cases as you mention, as I'm sure most of us have. Most of the time, in my experience, such cases are interpreted by competitors and fans as "team B" getting a lucky break in the way a season's schedule played out, so that at the end of a season they are playing "A", which has made the playoffs and is now playing their second team, whereas my team "C" has to play someone else who will give us tougher competiton than "A's" second team. I think if that scenario was extended to "A" actually trying to lose to "B" with the aim of thwarting "C's" playoff chances, that's a violation of the competition. But those cases are rare, and the main stream of such cases -- short of "trying to lose" -- seem to be interpreted as "that's the break's." More like one team getting a good seed or draw in a tournament, and someone else getting a crappy seed.

But here again, I think the badminton case truly crossed the line, as both teams were actively trying to play as bad as possible in order to lose -- they were exerting effort to lose. I think it's good to analyze things at great length, as we do on here. But I sometimes think -- we can trust what we see right in front of us -- watch those badminton matches and listen to the crowd. What those athletes did was wrong. (And again, the fact that the competition was set up to facilitate such thinking was truly problematic. It isn't rocket science to craft a tournament that mitigates against such performances. Kind of like a governing body never having thought about what might define a "tie" in a competition, and not having in place in advance a tie-breaking procedure for choosing an OT...unthinkable! :wink: )
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:27 am

Master Po wrote:Moreover, those 2nd-teamers on the field are typically playing their best. In any case, the playoff-bound team isn't trying to lose.

Valid point; the 1st-teamers would probably focus on avoiding injuries, and not play their best anyway.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:34 am

Master Po wrote:And again, the fact that the competition was set up to facilitate such thinking was truly problematic. It isn't rocket science to craft a tournament that mitigates against such performances.

There was a scandal in the 1982 soccer WC that was partially caused by the way the schedule was set up. Groups of four, two advance, but the final games did not take place at the same time. So team C had already played its final game when A played B. If A and B were to play to a draw, both would advance. In case a winner were to emerge from A versus B, then only the winner would advance, the loser would be out, and team C would advance.

Teams A and B had an incentive to reach a draw. And about halfway through the game both teams stopped showing any effort Not surprisingly the game ended in a draw, amid loud boos from fans, both teams advanced, and team C was out.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby Conor Dary » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:38 am

That 1982 game is why FIFA changed the timing of the final games in each group so they are simultaneous.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:41 am

Conor Dary wrote:That 1982 game is why FIFA changed the timing of the final games in each group so they are simultaneous.

Exactly; let's hope the badminton federation takes a critical look at its own schedule, and makes the appropriate changes.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby jeremyp » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:43 am

Wasn't there a Kenyan who deliberately lost a race in Europe so his compatriot got $$ in the Golden league? 2009?
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby Master Po » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:45 am

The 1982 FIFA case is interesting -- thanks to those who related it. I had never heard of it. This badminton case seems like a good analogy.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby TN1965 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:47 am

Making the tournament a single elimination format solves this problem. It's pretty simple.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:48 am

Marlow wrote:That rule, by and LARGE, has gone away. Our state used to have it, but finally gave in and got rid of it. I never even understood that rule. If you are NOT giving an 'honest' effort, who is that hurting but yourself? Wherever you are in the competition, YOU have earned that position and it is yours to forfeit if you wish.

Exactly. And who is to determine what an honest effort really is, and by what criteria?
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby kuha » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:50 am

Marlow wrote:This badminton 'scandal' is blowing up in the media. Do you agree with the decision to DQ (even suspend) the women who intentionally lost in order to get into a more favorable part of the bracket?

I totally disagree. If the object is to WIN (which seems to be the crux of the matter) then trying as hard as you can to WIN is indeed kosher. If that means you play for a tie in soccer or tank a game where you're trying to conserve energy for the next round, or trying to position yourself best in the bracket, then that is what you SHOULD do!

Why should you try to make it MORE difficult on yourself to win?

[all you people in favor of tactical racing should be on my side here - slowing down the pace from the front (not trying your hardest early on) in order to set up your kick, is the T&F equivalent in my mind. As much as I want a fast race, and as much as I criticize 'tactical' races, I certainly wouldn't DQ them!!]


For what it's worth, I basically agree. If THE point is to win, and we accept the whole notion of "tactics" (that is,using your brain as well as brawn), then it's just not logical to protest this sort of thing. Otherwise, we might as well just have dogs or wind-up toys racing one another.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby jeremyp » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:52 am

There is also the question of ticket paying fans getting screwed out of watching full effort matches. We expect USA not to pile on the points against BFE, but lose? Never.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:52 am

TN1965 wrote:Making the tournament a single elimination format solves this problem. It's pretty simple.

A double elimination format, the way NCAA softball uses it, seems to work pretty well.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:58 am

jeremyp wrote:We expect USA not to pile on the points against BFE, but lose?

One thing that bothers me is why running up points is supposed to show a lack of sportsmanship. Winning is good, but winning by a lot is not good?
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby preston » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:06 am

So, let's see? Hypothetical: It's 1992 and a there's a Kenyan, let's call him Chelimo, and there are two Moroccans let's call one Skah and the other Boutayeb and they're running the 10,000m. Let's say that one of the Moroccans, the one we called Boutayeb continually interferes with Chelimo - nothing to get DQ'd but something that CLEARLY obstructs Chelimo's ability to race to win ... Oh, you heard that one? Didn't Boutayeb have every right to run however he pleased? Skah didn't have a problem with him why should Chelimo? Just "tactical" racing right? :roll:
Marlow wrote:There are tons of cases in sports from the grass-roots to (obviously) the top level where the SMART thing to do is not compete all out. Unless you are preston and willing to BAN everyone who does that, you are being very hypocritical to look the other way when it's happening elsewhere.

There is NO SUCH THING as I earned my place in this heat, semi, final so I can run how I wish...its not hurting anyone. If an athlete is NOT going to run both events then they shouldn't be doubling. And, as for me banning everyone...I would love to ban athletes who don't show for finals because they were drawn in lane 1 for two years. But, that's me. Preston the banner? Not quite Vlad the impaler, but it's got a good ring to it.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby preston » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:09 am

j-a-m wrote:
jeremyp wrote:We expect USA not to pile on the points against BFE, but lose?

One thing that bothers me is why running up points is supposed to show a lack of sportsmanship. Winning is good, but winning by a lot is not good?

There's no such thing as running up the score. The other team has the option of forfeiting and going home to practice; it's not for the better skilled/coached team to quit because the other side didn't do their preparation work. I loved that story a few years back, I think it was Texas, where that team beat the little Catholic school by like 100 pts. ESPN and all the self-righteous media jumped all over that school for that. Unfortunately, it got the coach fired.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:17 am

jeremyp wrote:There is also the question of ticket paying fans getting screwed out of watching full effort matches.

Once the team has made the next round, there's no full effort one way or the other. The alternative is to pretend to give it all. And if there are too many meaningless matches, then fans should complain about organizers and their schedule, and not about the athletes.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby Marlow » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:23 am

Responding to three points above.

1. If your tanking pushes another team out, oh well; you should not have left your destiny to that circumstance. As Al Davis said, just win (by a lot, in case there's 'goal differential'), baby. You didn't take care of business when you should have.
2. The ticket-paying public. Yeah, I sympathize, but not enough to block the ATHLETES (for whom the contest is held!) from doing what they need to do to win overall.
3. Obstruction is NOT good sportsmanship; you've conflated the two situations. Throwing a match does not hinder your opponent; it helps him.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby preston » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:36 am

Marlow wrote:3. Obstruction is NOT good sportsmanship (neither is trying to game the seeding which is why those 8 athletes were DQ'd and why you started this thread); you've conflated the two situations. Throwing a match does not hinder your opponent (of COURSE it does! They were throwing the match to get a specific opponent, in all likelyhood an easier one but it could have been overall path to final; which would "hurt" the winner); it helps him.

He wasn't disqualified for obstruction (that was MY description; some might call it "tactics" -which I don't believe in - or just distance racing) and Skah kept his medal so I've conflated nothing. It's not just throwing the match it's the consequences of NOT running your best.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby TrakFan » Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:33 pm

jeremyp wrote:There is also the question of ticket paying fans getting screwed out of watching full effort matches. We expect USA not to pile on the points against BFE, but lose? Never.


Yup! It's easy to have a one-sided view of this topic when you're at home commenting on a T&F bulletin board. However, those who've paid and (some) travelled across continents should have an opportunity to watch a competitive match.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby TrakFan » Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:46 pm

Marlow wrote:Responding to three points above.

1. If your tanking pushes another team out, oh well; you should not have left your destiny to that circumstance. As Al Davis said, just win (by a lot, in case there's 'goal differential'), baby. You didn't take care of business when you should have.
2. The ticket-paying public. Yeah, I sympathize, but not enough to block the ATHLETES (for whom the contest is held!) from doing what they need to do to win overall.
3. Obstruction is NOT good sportsmanship; you've conflated the two situations. Throwing a match does not hinder your opponent; it helps him.


Sometimes it's necessary to "send a message" to let athletes know your're serious about their on and off-field/court conduct during these MASSIVE international events. If you send a racist tweet...adios. Throw badminton matches...see ya'. If any Arab/Muslim athletes in contact sports refuse to compete against Israeli athletes due to fake injuries (as they have in the past)...have them (that judo/wrestling TEAM) pack their bags.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby uakari » Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:51 pm

TN1965 wrote:Making the tournament a single elimination format solves this problem. It's pretty simple.


that's actually the reason they went for this new format. they did not want a team to simply play one match and lose and go home (as it happens with boxing, judo etc.). the problem is that this new "system" is flawed in that the players can game the system as it happened. what i don't understand is why is it advantageous to lose rather than to win. i'd think a good systems would reward you for wining, so that you next face a weaker opponent, and if you lose, you face a stronger one.

for the indoor vb tournament, the volleyball federation has divided the men's and women's team in 2 pools. there are six teams in each pool, after pool play, the top four advance to the quarters. #1 faces #4 in the other pool, #2 faces #3. but even this system ended up with teams gaming the system. so teams at the last match would manipulate the result (i.e. lose on purpose) with eyes on the next opponent. so now FIVB has instituted that while #1 still faces #4, there's a draw held to decide the opponents for #2 and #3. so now #2 might face #2 and #3 faces #3. this is so that teams can no longer game the system.

this is not a perfect system. i think in one past olympics, the cuban women finished fourth or third in their pool and eventually ended up upsetting the "stronger" team on the other side in the quarters (the US, i think), so the semis ended up with 3 teams from one pool, and the US which had played really well in pool play (might have even been the undefeated #1 seed, can't recall) ended up out. can't recall if the cubans were just slow to warm up in the tournament or they were gaming the system, but in the end, it was not a satisfactory semis phase.

i think the badminton fed. are idiots -- they are blaming the players for a stupid system they created. although i did see some of the footage of the players deliberately serving into the net over and over again. that was pathetic. they need to come up with a better system.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby Marlow » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:25 pm

TrakFan wrote:Yup! It's easy to have a one-sided view of this topic when you're at home commenting on a T&F bulletin board. However, those who've paid and (some) travelled across continents should have an opportunity to watch a competitive match.

Totally depends on whom you're rooting for. If I traveled far to see the USA win, and they tanked in order to get an advantage, I'd be all for it!
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby jeremyp » Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:09 pm

Anybody see PBS' docudrama about the 1948 Olympics pairs rowing competition? In it the two deliberately threw a race in order to get into a race with easier competitors. Sounds familiar.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby Vielleicht » Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:56 pm

It was a bit like scoring own goals to deliberately lose, the analogies with resting star players or easing up in rounds don't work. Plus, both Korean pairs have been banned for two years from competition and their coaches virtually permanently by the Korean badminton federation.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby bekayne » Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:43 am

Master Po wrote: Which extends the analogies out to the badminton case, in which the players were actually trying to lose, and were really making a mockery of their sport, on its largest stage.


Exactly. That's what they should have been charged with, "bringing the sport into disrepute". The same as gambling on matches, threatening officials or mooning the crowd. The "not giving an honest effort" just muddied the waters.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby uakari » Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:14 pm

it's a scandal they did not DQ makhloufi and take his gold medal in the 1500. he cheated by producing a fake medical note, or faking an injury that didn't exist.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby jhc68 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:25 pm

Sportsmanship is when you refuse to pursue an unearned advantage.

Like when a soccer player kicks the ball out of bounds after seeing an opponent injured on the pitch, or when you self-report a rules violation that otherwise would not have come to light. Throwing a game to gain a better path through the tourney seedings does not fit my definition of sportsmanship (although European and South American teams in several sports have been doing such things for decades.)

Likewise, full-court pressing to run up scores and personal and team stats does not fit with my idea of sportsmanship, either.
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby cullman » Thu Aug 16, 2012 5:18 pm

Sportsmanship circa 2012: "The Ends Justify The Means" :wink: :P
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Re: What is Sportsmanship?

Postby j-a-m » Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:12 am

Controversy in the NFL at the end of the game between NY giants and Tampa Bay. What coach showed sportsmanship, and what coach showed a lack thereof?

I'm completely with Tampa Bay coach Schiano, perfectly fine to play the game until the end. If NY coach Coughlin doesn't prepare his players to play and protect themselves until the game is over, then that's on him. His reactions after the game showed a complete lack of sportsmanship.
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