Playing sports is fun. It provides great exercise, promotes teamwork, meet new people and let's us get that animal aggression out. The two main rules of any sport ... whether it is pee-wee football or the NBA ... is that you play fair and you exhibit good sportsmanship.
That hasn't been happening lately.
You have been reminded of the sad side of sports of late. LeBron James not congratulating the Orlando Magic after beating his Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals and then blowing off the media afterward is one example. Tiger Woods flinging golf clubs as he's dropping f-bombs is another. Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez getting caught up in the roids scandal is another. How Serena Williams and Roger Federer acted in the US Open this past week was yet another. We saw a Boise State football player taunt an Oregon football player after a game ... with the Oregon player retaliating with a knockout punch.
Oh, and last night Jorge Posada decided to toss a chicken wing at a Blue Jays pitcher after a pitch was thrown at him. That chicken wing started a nice brawl.
What's going on? This has been a magical year for sports ... especially in my house. My North Carolina Tar Heels won the NCAA Tournament and the LA Lakers won the NBA Finals. But there has been much more. The BCS title game was pretty good. We were treated to the second straight awesome Super Bowl (I remember the days when it was routinely a blowout). Several of the NBA Finals games went down to the wire. These MLB playoffs look like they could be classic. We've had magical stories in golf this year (remember Tom Watson?), we saw both Serena Williams and Roger Federer bring back their dominance in tennis.
Now, are the examples of bad sportsmanship that horrid? I mean, we've seen the Malice In the Palace, John McEnroe berate officials, Bob Knight choke a player and throw fits, other roid users, people spitting on opponents/umpires, etc, etc. But what we have going on now is the faces of the sports they play acting like spoiled brats.
LeBron, Serena, Roger Federer, Tiger and A-Rod are among the best at what they do. They demand excellence and there is nothing wrong with that. So did Michael Jordan, who spent his Hall Of Fame speech reminding everyone that he's better than them.
But they've been playing sports their entire lives and they've all lost a few times during that time. They all know that only one person or one team can win the championship and everyone else was beaten by someone. I guess they don't realize that that person or team that gets knocked out could be them.
Bad sportsmanship is troubling. Not just the things they did but how they react to failure. When Serena or Federer loses in a grand slam event, it was because "they played poorly" and not because the other person was just better that day. When Y.E. Yang beat Tiger at the PGA Championship, Tiger lamented about his poor putting and not the fact that Yang was simply amazing in that final round. LeBron still hasn't acknowledged that his team was beaten by the surprising Orlando Magic.
Sure, we've all been there. We've all been good at something and ha
ve problems with the fact that someone else may be better at it. Heck, how many of you have played Madden and just kicked everyone's butt only to have some 9-year old smoke you? You get a little bent, don't ya?
But that isn't our living. We don't have cameras in our faces. And we don't get paid millions of dollars to play a game that we played for free as a child ... nor do we receive endorsement deals for being an athlete. We also aren't allowed to berate a co-worker, cuss like a sailor when we're mad, or have a Dominican cousin who can fly us up some PEDs.
I'm cool with getting bent sometimes. Baseball players get tossed. Basketball players get T'd up. Hockey players get into brawls. Tennis players smash their rackets in anger. I'm fine with all of that. Whatever. But throwing tantrums when things don't go your way just doesn't cut it. People forget that sports is a lot like life ... only that life isn't always fair.