The Wyoming Humanities Council and the Casper Star-Tribune continue their partnership on the Civility Matters! statewide initiative. This month University of Wyoming's Chris Prosinski, free safety for the UW football team who is taking postgraduate courses in business, discusses civility regarding the significance of sportsmanship.
"How a man plays the game shows something of his character; how he loses shows it all." -- Tribune (Camden County, Ga).
To me, this quote epitomizes the standard in which sportsmanship is measured for individuals and carries over to everyday life. In today’s society, so much of an athlete’s success is determined solely by their win-loss record. Although the ultimate team goal in competitive athletics is to win, much more can be determined about an athlete and the program by the way they carry themselves through victory or defeat.
Showing sportsmanship throughout competition is much more than simply being cordial to the other team’s players and coaches. Being a good sport is not measured by the number of times you help your opponent up off the playing field or by shaking hands after the game. Adrenaline and emotions often times run high during competition and it is not uncommon for individuals to act out from their normal demeanor. An athlete’s actions in a competitive environment are usually more intense than in an everyday situation. These sometimes extreme outbursts or reactions are not always inappropriate within the confines of sport. However, once an athlete’s actions have gone so far as to embarrass themselves, their team and school, or their family and friends, they have crossed the line.
Sportsmanship is about respecting your opponents and the game you are playing. Individuals should respect their opponents for the reason that they have also committed themselves to the same sport in which you are competing. While not all athletes or teams may display the same level of ability, they have dedicated their time to the same sport and deserve the respect for their courage to compete.
Good sportsmanship is imperative for the integrity of competition. The way an athlete carries him or herself is a reflection of their character and of the passion and respect they have for their sport. Today, many athletes often get caught up in drawing unnecessary attention to themselves through their actions, speech, or even their wardrobe. Not only do these actions sacrifice the integrity of the game they have worked so hard to compete in, they also cast a shadow on the efforts of their teammates. So often you see professional athletes excessively celebrate without recognizing their teammate’s efforts that put them in the position to succeed.
Sportsmanship encompasses more than respect for your opponents and the sport you compete in; it also demonstrates respect for your teammates, fans, school, and city and state you represent. As a Wyoming native who was provided with the opportunity to play football for the University of Wyoming, I have had the honor of experiencing Wyoming fans as some of the most passionate and dedicated throughout the country. Wyoming fans have exuded an immense amount of enthusiasm and loyalty towards the University of Wyoming and its athletic programs. I believe it is the responsibility of all UW student-athletes to reciprocate this devotion by representing the fans in a positive and respectable manner.
Chris Prosinski was the 2006 Milward Simpson Male Athlete of the Year Award winner for Wyoming. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.