Disclaimer: The author of this post represents Champion Athleticwear.
It’s apparent to anyone that follows modern sports - whether intensely or casually – that the priorities of many athletes have changed over the years. Growing up, many of us were taught that sportsmanship, integrity and respect for the game were the most important things in sports. Winning and losing were the byproducts of competing, a secondary concern.
Just looking at examples from recent weeks though, it appears naïve to think that winning hasn’t become the top priority for the majority of pro athletes. The biggest sporting event in the entire world this summer, the World Cup, was filled with sportsmanship issues: controversial and unsportsmanlike plays, the unwillingness of the Brazilian team to shake hands with the Dutch following a quarterfinal loss and then the Dutch themselves playing an overly aggressive game in the Championship, leading to a record number of yellow cards.
It appears many of the ideals preached to young athletes are no longer fully practiced at the highest level of sport. Why is this such a problem? Because the exhilaration of winning has, at times, replaced the exhilaration of playing for the simple love of the game.
A survey conducted by Champion and NAYS (the National Alliance for Youth Sports) reveals a growing sentiment that winning has overtaken fair play and sportsmanship. A few key stats from the survey include: 73% of respondents indicated their athletic peers believe it’s cheating only if they’re caught, 79% say showing good sportsmanship doesn’t seem to be as important to athletes as it used to be and 81% agree that athletes today would rather win the game than play completely fairly.
Lacrosse, unfortunately, isn’t immune. Slashes aimed just beyond the reach of pads and blindside hits with no regard for safety of opposing players aren’t new to the game, but continue to demonstrate issues with players respecting each other and the game at the higher levels of the sport. Like other youth sports, young lacrosse players can get caught up in a world where winning is prioritized over good sportsmanship and fair play. With the world championship going on now, it’s a great time to encourage a sportsmanship renaissance in lacrosse and all sports.
You can help by submitting to the Athletes’ Creed at www.Facebook.com/Champion where partners, such as Steve Stenersen of US Lacrosse, have submitted a set of athletic principles they think should be of utmost importance, particularly amongst amateur athletes. You can vote on these principles as well as submit your own at through August 6th.
The problems in modern sports are certainly troubling, but they’re hardly incurable. Please check out the Athletes’ Creed and get involved. Be a part of a new generation of athletes that refuses to be defined by wins and losses.