Monday, September 3, 2012

The Art of Sportsmanship

One of the things I love about the Olympics is that through watching the Games, we occasionally get to see little glimpses of good sportsmanship that are unlike anything seen in mainstream sports.  Good sportsmanship, to me, comes from having a genuine love of one's sport and can only really be experienced when one has the right perspective; it's about being grateful for having the chance to compete, no matter what the outcome.  

I think perhaps everybody's favorite competitor based on sportsmanship this summer was South African Oscar Pistorius, who advanced to compete in the 400-meter finals despite having two prosthetic legs.  

Another example of an athlete who was a good sport in the face of competition was Sam Mikulak, the U.S. gymnast who was in third place in the men's vaulting event as he openly cheered on the competitors who performed after him and ultimately bumped him out of medal position.

But my favorite moment of sportsmanship was in the mens' 10,000 meter run during track and field; skip ahead to 2:40 on this video clip and you'll see Mo Farah, the British distance runner, cross the finish line first to take the gold, followed by his training buddy and my pick for Best Sport of the 2012 Games, Galen Rupp of the U.S.:

In my years of competitive running while I was growing up, my dad always encouraged me before every race to gut it out and to give it my all, to do the homework (and by that he meant to put in the miles and the training beforehand AND to learn whatever I could about both my competition and the course ahead of time), but to leave it all on the track.  He taught me that when the race was over, my competitors were my friends, that our mutual love of running made us allies in a sense.  Through advice that my dad gave me about running, I learned that how one behaves before, during, and after the event is every bit if not more important that who stands on the awards podium at the finish and that sometimes it's your day to have a good race and sometimes it's someone else's day.  That's how I came to value Sportmanship and all it embodies - respect, fairness, kindness, and honesty.  

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