Sportsmanship is defined as “fair and generous behavior or treatment of others, especially in a sports contest.” There are various definitions, but most share similarities and encompass a pair of feel-good words: respect and fairness. The definition has a calming feel to it and sounds so simple. However, sportsmanship is neither automatic nor autonomic. It must be learned, preached, practiced, and modeled as an integral part of an athlete’s development. A lack of sportsmanship can often overshadow an athlete’s talent, hard work, and commitment.
But it doesn’t start and stop with the athletes. Promoting good sportsmanship is also the responsibility of fans. There are moments within games when things get emotional, intense, and sometimes personal. It’s experienced by both players and fans. Bigger games, larger stakes, and the realization that there can only be one winner oftentimes heightens those responses. A lack of sportsmanship among fans can have detrimental effects on many levels, whether it occurs at live events or over social media. I’d even argue that it only takes a few in certain situations to reflect poorly on a fan base. If you’re a visual person and need to see actual examples, I’d ask that you take a peek at social media before, during, and after a Chiefs vs. Raiders game!
As we approach Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, many are anticipating a very entertaining contest. There is an undeniable level of anxiety among both fan bases. An event that has averaged 107 million viewers over the last five years, this Super Bowl is sure to generate a plethora of emotional dysregulation and challenge the sportsmanship of many. While I hope to see the Chiefs raise the Lombardi Trophy covered in confetti, I would like to take this opportunity to extend some good sportsmanship and wish the 49ers and all of their fans the best of luck. Let’s all enjoy the experience!