AskDefine | Define sportsmanship

Dictionary Definition

sportsmanship n : fairness in following the rules of the game

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. the behaviour exhibited in playing sports, either good or bad
  2. the good attitude/behaviour displayed by players of a game; fairness, determination, winning or losing gracefully


See also

Extensive Definition

Sportsmanship is, in a basic sense, conforming to the rules and the proper spirit of sport. This is a term called etiquicy. More grandly it may be considered the ethos of sport. It is interesting that the motivation for sport is often an elusive element. Sportsmanship expresses an aspiration or ethos that the activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one's competitors.
Often the pressures of competition, individual achievement, or introduction of technology can seem to work against enjoyment by participants. As a result, sportsmanship is often contrasted with its converse, gamesmanship.
Poor sportsmanship can either be the winners "rubbing salt in the wounds" of the losers, or the losers expressing their frustration at not winning, even to the point of holding a grudge. Other examples of poor sportsmanship are booing national anthems or failing to congratulate the winners.
Sportsmanship typically is regarded as a component of morality in sport, composed of three related and perhaps overlapping concepts: fair play, sportsmanship, and character (Shields & Bredemeier, 1995). Fair play refers to all participants having an equitable chance to pursue victory (Weinberg & Gould, 1999) and acting toward others in an honest, straightforward, and a firm and dignified manner even when others do not play fairly. It includes respect for others including team members, opponents, and officials (Canadian Commission for Fair Play, 1990). Character refers to dispositions, values and habits that determine the way that person normally responds to desires, fears, challenges, opportunities, failures and successes and is typically seen in polite behaviors toward others such as helping an opponent up or shaking hands after a match. An individual is believed to have a “good character” when those dispositions and habits reflect core ethical values. This is important to a lot of sports.
Sportsmanship can be conceptualized as an enduring and relatively stable characteristic or disposition such that individuals differ in the way they are generally expected to behave in sport situations. In general, sportsmanship refers to virtues such as fairness, self-control, courage and persistence (Shields & Bredemeier, 1995) and has been associated with interpersonal concepts of treating others and being treated fairly, maintaining self-control in dealing with others, and respect for both authority and opponents. Five facets of sportsmanship have been identified:
  • Full commitment to participation (e.g., showing up, working hard during all practices and games, acknowledging one’s mistakes and trying to improve)
  • Respect and concern for rules and officials
  • Respect and concern for social conventions (e.g., shaking hands, recognizing the good performance of an opponent)
  • Respect and concern for the opponent (e.g., lending one’s equipment to the opponent, agreeing to play even if the opponent is late, not taking advantage of injured opponents)
  • Avoiding poor attitudes toward participation (e.g., not adopting a win-at-all-costs approach, not showing temper after a mistake, and not competing solely for individual prizes)
(Vallerand, Deshaies, Cuerrier, Briere, & Pelletier, 1996; Vallerand, Briere, Blanchard, & Provencher, 1997).

Specific examples of sportsmanship

During the 1958 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Portugal, Mike Hawthorn spun his car but was able to continue and eventually finished second. Which, when added to his fastest lap, gave him 7 points to Moss' 8 for the win. Hawthorn though, was accused by the officials of breaking the rules by restarting in the opposite direction. Moss had witnessed the incident and came to his rival's defence, and a relieved Hawthorn was able to keep his 7 points. Moss would eventually lose the championship to his rival by one point even though he bested his fellow countryman in race wins 4 to 1.
The Pierre de Coubertin medal is awarded to those Olympic athletes who show extraordinary sportsmanship. Perhaps the most famous of its recipients was Luz Long, the German long jumper who befriended and aided Jesse Owens in the 1936 "Nazi" Olympics.
In April of 2008 in a game of college softball, Central Washington University players Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace carried opposing Western Oregon University player Sara Tucholsky across all bases after she injured her knee running to first base, so that Tucholsky could complete the first home run she had ever hit.
In the sport of cricket, poor sportsmanship is often referred to as "not cricket". Perhaps the most reviled instance of bad sportsmanship in cricket is Australian Trevor Chappell's underarm bowling incident 1981.
Since the year 2000 sportsmanship has been described and promoted in a preamble to the Laws entitled the Spirit of Cricket.
Professional wrestling and mixed martial arts sportsmanship is shown when the wrestler or fighter would shake hands or touch gloves before their bout.
sportsmanship in Spanish: Juego limpio
sportsmanship in Japanese: スポーツマンシップ
sportsmanship in Norwegian: sportsånd

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

candor, cricket, fair play, fair shake, fair-mindedness, fairness, good sportsmanship, honesty, honor, honorableness, integrity, justice, justness, probity, scrupulousness, sportsmanlikeness, sportsmanliness, square deal, the fair thing, the handsome thing, the proper thing, uprightness
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