The Sportsmanship Code
Pro sports are pretty intense and that's why there are so many rules, referees and sports talk about how to play fair. However, there is something beyond the rules called the sportsmanship code and it's something every pro player learns from when they were kids. The sportsmanship code varies from sport to sport so let's take a look at what it is and why it's important.
The sportsmanship code is a bunch of simple unwritten rules that the players usually follow without the enforcement of a referee. Here are a couple of reasons why there is a sportsmanship code:
- The referees can't see everything bad that happens
- So nobody gets hurt
- Superstition and Karma
- Players don't enjoy winning if something unfair happens
- So no one is humiliated
- Revenge for injustice (foul play that goes undetected)
Rugby is one of the best sports to demonstrate the sportsmanship code. These players wear no equipment, no matter how they hit and tackle each other, there are many injuries. However, there is a code between the players to make sure nobody tries to injure each other. It's interesting that there are more injuries in sports that have equipment!
Fist Fight Fellowship
Some sportsmanship codes vary from sport to sport. What might seem like something fair in one sport, might be completely the opposite in another sport. Most hockey players have fist fights during a hockey game with absolutely no anger. However, players in sports like football and basketball always take fist fights personal. It's just that in hockey, there is a sportsmanship code that fist fights are a part of the general strategy of the game of hockey.
Sometimes in sports, a powerful team might start blowing away the other team. It's very common for the power team to let up and stop scoring so many points to avoid humiliating the other team. However, in football the teams find it disrespectful to stop trying and the power teams continue to score as many points as possible.
Everytime someone gets hurt in a soccer game, the team with possession of the ball will always kick the ball out of play so the ref can call a timeout and allow medical staff to attend the injury. When play resumes again, the team will kick the ball back to the team who kicked the ball out of play... even though technically they could keep the ball and try to score.
A long time ago when the sportsmanship code was more powerful than it is today, there used to be a no-diving code. Back when pro sports was played for no money, few refs and no instant-replay, the players were very respectful to play fair. It was considered dishonorable to win a game by cheating so no one cheated. Now that players are getting paid so much money to win, some players master the art of diving to gain the advantage over the other team. It started with soccer players, but now you'll see it in basketball and hockey.
Baseball has quite sportsmanship code that reverses the rules of safety and actually makes the game more dangerous. It's common in baseball that a pitcher will intentionally hit a batter on the other team. This opens the door for the other pitcher to retaliate by hitting any player on the offending pitcher's team. It usually escalades into a bench-clearing brawl.
Have Your Say...
What do you think is a good sportsmanship code? Let us know in the comments below!