Sport: What happened to sportsmanship?

Corruption in sport is nothing new. Boxing has often been fixed since the early days, giving us the familiar expression ‘taking a dive’. Horses and dogs were doped to slow them down, or to make them go faster. Team members and individuals took bribes to lose games or matches, and bookmakers could win or lose fortunes on the outcome of a race. Money was always involved, but never on the huge scale it represents today. Winning is all, whatever the cost. It doesn’t matter if it is an amateur contest, or the prestige of playing for a national team, fame, success, medals, or money seem to be all that matter.

Recent high-profile cases have included swimmers who took performance enhancing drugs, cyclists who did the same, as well as runners and athletes tied up in doping scandals. Now we have cricketers who have admitted to match-fixing, tampering with balls on the pitch, or deliberately playing badly for payment to do so. Football (soccer) stars who have feigned injury in the hope that their team will lose, and they will make money from payoffs or gambling, and Formula One cars with unauthorised modifications that have helped them win races.

Even in the world of Tennis, unfair play in the form of ‘gamesmanship’ has become the norm, with delayed serves, arguing with the officials’ decisions, and anything else possible to unsettle an opponent.

Second best is no longer good enough, unless it comes with a substantial paycheck to compensate for it. And what about behaviour? Cricket and rugby stars in this country attacking people in the street, or assaulting a police officer whilst drunk. Should they be trying to set a better example? I think so. Should they be banned from their sport because of that behaviour? I think they should

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The spirit of sport is withering on the vine as we watch, and the corruption that began in the bad old days of Soviet-bloc hormone treatments has been exceeded by such widespread abuses, we can no longer be sure of the validity of any sport we might watch, or follow.

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24 comments

  1. Prole Center

    Pete, what the hell, man? The corruption began in the “bad old days of Soviet-bloc hormone treatments”?! Is that really a thing? Did that even happen, or is that more capitalist propaganda? I seriously doubt the Soviets ever engaged in such activity, but at the very least one must admit that this type of sports corruption could not have begun with the Soviets.

    Liked by 1 person

    • beetleypete

      You know my politics, and you might recall I have visited the Soviet Union on a few occasions. But as far as sport goes, I do hold to my contention. Many female athletes from the USSR and East Germany during that era were undoubtedly using drugs, including the undeniable use of male hormones. This was plain to see, not just from their startling masculine appearance at times, but also from the huge differences in performance over the competition.
      I am not talking about falling for propaganda, but I did trust my own eyes. (That some other countries caught on, and used them later, is also obvious.) Sometimes if it walks like a duck, and quacks, then it’s a duck. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  2. John

    Every word of this post is absolutely true and I agree that organized sports in this country have become nothing but vehicles to support organized crime, illicit ventures, and big money. I have always detested organized sports for the very reasons given in this most comprehensive and enlightening overview. Big sports in this country have become a moral shame and a national disgrace.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. GP Cox

    Oops, i didn’t even rant about poor sportsmanship off the field. Tiger Woods cheated on his wife because he felt he was so terrific, he deserved all those women. (How’s that for rationalizing the situation?)
    The athletes who fight in bars and carry on like they’re so much better than the fans, should grow up. We have adult men playing a game for millions of dollars and acting like brats.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. GP Cox

    Agree 100%, Pete. People who watch baseball are heard to say, “Aw, with an asterisk next his name, he can’t be put in the Hall of Fame….” Well, that’s as it should be. How would they have played without the drugs? We’ll never know, because they’ll never be that young again, because of the drugs, their bodies are now deteriorated as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • beetleypete

      I remember when top football (soccer) stars earned Β£25 a week, rode a bicycle to matches, and lived in modest homes. They played for the love of the game, an average salary, and not for fame and fortune. We have lost so many values, and so much decency, in the past fifty-odd years.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Woebegone but Hopeful

    Good and thoughtful post Pete
    It is a difficult question.
    There are those who push themselves to their physical limits because they love their sport and wish to excel. There are those who work very, very hard knowing they will never be top but try to get as far as they can for the joy of it.
    And there are those who rise too quick, too far, too fast by any means and fall just as swiftly.
    There are those who forget their responsibilities
    In the meantime the parasites lurk ever on the sidelines feeding off of the cash flowing about the place.
    There is a very incisive US cartoon strip ‘Tank McNamara’. The central character being an ex-American footballer player who is now a media commentator and whose ‘show’ and his status as the straight-man acts as satire on the excesses of sport. Sometimes just funny other times, like all good humour can bring some harsh realities to the surface.

    Liked by 1 person

    • beetleypete

      Thanks, Roger. I am sure that there are thousands of dedicated and sincere young hopefuls, as well as older regulars who would never dream of cheating or behaving like thugs. This was mainly about the successful mainstream stars, and the ‘industry’ that surrounds them of course.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Woebegone but Hopeful

        Indeed Pete.
        The ‘Industry’ and the ‘Money’ involved in the mainstream! If only some of that could be syphoned off down to the ground-level. All the benefits, young people’s energies directed into positive things and not lured into nihilistic patterns out of despair.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Ian Gibson Photography

    The thing that amazes me about professional cycling, is how many of the best cyclists have asthma. It’s either a good thing because it shows that people with asthma can succeed at high endurance sport, or it’s a bad thing because top cyclists are cheats. I know which I think is true.

    Liked by 2 people

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