Monday, October 27, 2008

On The Tunney Side of the Street #200, Oct. 27, 2008 (

After Further Review … As I watched young participants play in a recent Junior Golf Tournament at a Par 3 local course, I was impressed by the brightness of their faces, the determined look to do their best, and, most of all, their CIVILITY. I’ve seen those characteristics before in youth tournament competitions; then watched them grow from kids to young adults, and some even onto the professional tour. As they aged, their faces hardened a bit, but not their civility. So the question becomes – where has civility gone in our sports world today? I’ve never seen a Junior Golfer throw a club in disgust; never heard a “discouraging word” – the 4-letter variety; and never found anyone who didn’t always want to do his or her best.

Do the values of the game get lost as players get older? Do we lose respect, courtesy, honor, and integrity as the pressure of winning increases? Has winning at all costs overtaken the basic values that we first learned as kids?

Sports that require physical contact (e.g. football, soccer, hockey, basketball) often elide the traits mentioned above. Let’s use NFL football as a case in point. In “It’s the Will, Not the Skill” we say “dancing (celebrating) in the end-zone” evinces disrespect for one’s opponent. Yet in golf, the pumping of the fist, the thrust of the hand overhead as an emotion of celebration does not seem disrespectful. Emotional energy is part of creating momentum, and, perhaps, a way of building self-confidence.

Where civility gets lost is when the “celebration” goes overboard. Granted, in the “emotionality” (if you will) of the occasion, does one think of that impact on an opponent? It hurts to lose, especially when you see your opponent flaunting success. Does that mean you should not celebrate? Not at all. Celebrating is as natural as breathing – an inherent right – an earned privilege of winning. Winning is important – “you play to win the game” (see page 190 in It’s the Will, Not the Skill), but moderation in celebrating must be considered.

We’ve all seen the ugliness of competition influence kids because of ADULT – coaches, parents, crowd, etc., behavior. Typically, kids are out there playing because they love to play. Adults, far too often, are the ones overly exerting pressure on them to win. That being said, congratulations go to parents and coaches who promote good sportsmanship by making sure that, if their kids win, they treat celebrating with concern about respecting others.


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