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Fair Sport – A Sordid Look at Sports

Everyone knows that throwing a tantrum after a losing game is bad behavior. People will say that you are a sore loser, ill tempered or more often than not, a bad sport. One should ask, why? Seriously, you just lost a game; if you were a truly good sport, you would have won right?

Yes, of course, it has all been said and done; “sport teaches discipline” or patience, or perseverance, or acceptance, or self worth, or a hundred dozen other positive virtues. But if that really were true, should not all our athletes be canonized as saints? Does Tiger Woods not know how to swear? Will David Beckham never, ever do wrong? Is Wayne Gretzky beyond bad manners? The point of the matter is, no matter how well you play the game, or how much you have mastered a sport, can one truly ever be, a fair sport?

Evolution

Let us face it; the human psyche is designed to reject the feelings of defeat. We are genetically engineered to want to do better. Losing triggers negative reactions from our mind, teaching us, training us, evolving us to dislike losing. In fact, this factor, combined with our natural level of self worth, or pride as others may put it, creates intolerance to losing. This is how we humans moved from becoming cave dwellers into penthouse suite residents.

Somewhere, thousands of years ago, early man decided he was not going to take a beating from some mammoth ever again. Thus was born hunting, and the first sport man partook in was that of survival; or so we assume, provided that there is as of yet, no evidence that a primitive form of Texas Hold ‘em Poker has been found.

Looking back on this, it is not so surprising that we would like to swear our lungs out the next time we land on the water hazard on the eighth hole. It is simply our genes telling us that such poor performance is an unacceptable standard. That, and the fact that it truly is frustrating to buy so many replacement golf balls.

Letting the Steam Out

It is inevitable that when playing competitive sports, someone has got to lose, so why can not we all just be truly fair and let the loser belt his frustrations out? When we win, we get to experience the glory, and the gloating, in all its absolute glory. Who are we then to deprive our opponent the right and opportunity to sulk, complain and make excuses for having lost the game? Do we not all deserve a few moments to lick our wounds? As much as people might say that winning is not everything, it still feels better to win.

Thus we now come to the conclusion that we live in a world that is intolerant of both losing and feeling sorry for losing. Those who lose are expected to still smile and cheer on the victor. Indeed, by creating the label of “sore loser” we grant no one the right or dignity to express a sense of emotional defeat when experiencing loss.

Calling it Even

Is it really that bad? No, it is not. No amount of embarrassment, shame or incompetence brought about by losing a fairly played game or match would ever come close to the amount of fun and enjoyment we can get from playing itself. Besides, the less time we spend feeling sorry for losing, the faster we can start playing another round. GP

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