A game of football is on. Two longstanding rival teams have at it. The game ends. One team has beaten the other by a margin of three to zero. Yet, the players from the opposing teams exchange handshakes and hugs. They exit the pitch and file towards the dressing rooms.

We have seen this scenario play out multiple times. A display of civility and respect amongst competitors. This is what sportsmanship is all about. Anything but is not acceptable.


Sportsmanship is behavior and attitude that shows respect for the rules of a game and fellow players. It is also referred to as fair play. It is the idea that a sport should be enjoyed primarily for its own sake. 

Sportsmanship lessens the focus on who wins or loses and is more about enjoying and seeing the game for what it is: a game.

A soccer player may kick the ball out of the pitch in an effort to pause the game and check on a fallen opponent. This is an example of sportsmanship.


Athletes who do not exhibit sportsmanship are often called sore losers or lousy winners. Sportsmanship is not gloating about a win to the loser’s face. It is not degrading an opponent’s self-esteem. It is not hurling insulting words at the loser. Physically confronting or hurting the winner is not sportsmanship. Blaming others for a loss without accepting responsibility is not sportsmanship. Insulting the winner or officials is not sportsmanship.

Another act of unsportsmanlike behavior would be an athlete not adhering to the rules of the game. Some athletes cheat to gain an unfair advantage in the game. One way competitors might do this is by doping: the use of a controlled substance or technique to illegally improve athletic performance.

The Athletics Integrity Unit of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics suspended Blessing Okagbare, a Nigerian sprinter, and long jumper. The unit also handed her an eleven-year athletic ban for evading doping tests and failing a drug test. This is an example of bad sportsmanship.


The four elements of sportsmanship are good form, the will to win, fairness, and equity. Athletes must take great care to ensure that a balance of these elements is maintained. If an athlete’s will to win supersedes the pursuit of fairness and equity amongst players, the aim of sportsmanship may be defeated.

Athletes can encourage the spirit of sportsmanship by shaking hands before and after games. Athletes should assist fallen competitors and avoiding doping. Competitors should cheer for great plays(even if they are made by the opposition). In all, show respect and courtesy to everyone including teammates, the opposition, the officials, and the audience.

Aerial shot of professional tennis players handshakes at the net. Sportsmen shaking hands over the net on hard court.

As Brownites engage in the various games that are currently available within the hall, particularly with the approach of the ABH league, we hope that they engage in clean and fair play.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.