Editorial: Achieving better way is possible

Nov. 16, 2013 @ 11:42 PM

Sportsmanship isn’t dead. But it sure has taken a beating of late.

From high schools to colleges to professionals, we’re hoping there’s an ounce of integrity left in the athletes we enjoy seeing perform. We’re hoping the lines of decorum won’t continue to drop like dead weight. We’re hoping the new levels of narcissism are only a passing fad.

And we’re looking for the examples who will maintain our hope.

Times are tough when looking for a needle in a haystack. Finding the object of desire creates an instant grab mechanism. Ironically, much like our persuasive technology advances.

Not only are players bathing in their moments, but so too are the overzealous among their supporters, be it members of the team, their coaches or their fans, or in the case of professionals, their owners.

Like an infant who learns a bad word, they all learn or pick it up from somewhere. Imitation in life has good points, but it also has the miserably bad.

The train carrying the purity of athletics checked out of the station long ago. We hear the whistle and watch the antiquated way every so often, but by and large, the express version usually has a “look at me” hook in it and we’re left to turn away on our own, similar to passing a traffic crash on the highway.

We need better leadership at earlier ages. We need stronger leadership at the most vulnerable and tender of ages. And we need no tolerance through all levels — commissioners, coaches and team captains to name only a few. None are exempt.

Our children should be learning a commitment to integrity, sportsmanship and fair play when they step into athletics. If done properly, athletics can build not only character but also a bond and understanding of what it means to be a community. We are all participants in that endeavor.

The measure for greatness is optional to include or not include wins and losses, personal performance or any other component. Each program must define the culture and environment for all who participate through the established values and beliefs in sportsmanship, integrity, fair play, respect and development of those involved.

Whether we teach the game, or the game of life, we must do so responsibly and be accountable.