When I was little and spent most of my days playing double-dutch, kickball and running as fast as my legs could carry me, I distinctly remember my parents, coaches and other adults telling me about sportsmanship. You know, that fine art of being competitive while still respecting your teammates and other players? It seems to be an increasingly altruistic notion nowadays.
From the NFL Bounty Scandal of 2012 that resulted in the suspension of four New Orleans Saint’s players to Annette McCullough’s soccer attack that resulted in simple assault charges, it seems the nasty side of sports is getting most of the attention.
In any event, Cole Hamels has admitted that he hit teenage rookie Bryce Harper with a fastball yesterday during their Major League game “on purpose”. And his reason? He wanted to take baseball back to it’s “old school” roots. Nope, there wasn’t the slightest seed of bitterness at the rookie upstart’s growing popularity and talent.
It occurs to me that this underlying aggression is the reason that when my brothers played football and basketball I sat in the stands with my heart in my throat, just hoping that no one threw an elbow or smashed into either of them. And probably also the reason that I breathed a sigh of relief when my niece gave up girl’s basketball and took up track. Individual sports seem to be more of a breeding ground for sportsmanship.
Oh, wait. I just remembered Tonya Harding. Nevermind.