skip navigation

Who Needs Sportsmanship? We All Do

By Allison Torres Burtka, Global Sport Matters, 08/16/18, 12:00PM CDT


“Youth sport is a wonderful place to teach values, like resilience, respect for rules and respect for opponents, and how to work hard and accomplish something.”

Sports deliver mixed messages: We play to win. No points for second place. It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game that counts. Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat.

The world of sports is replete with examples of good and bad sportsmanship. But what exactly is sportsmanship, and why does it matter?

Definitions often involve fair play, respect for all parties involved and graciousness in winning and losing. Tim Delaney, a sociology professor at the State University of New York at Oswego, defines it in “The Sociology of Sports” as “conduct and attitudes considered as benefiting participants, especially in regards to a sense of fair play, courtesy toward teammates and opponents, game officials and others involved in the sporting contest, as well as grace in losing.”