THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
By Katelyn Mulligan
COO & VP of Community Relations
The 2022 Olympic Winter Games inspired me to reflect on a sportsmanship situation we encountered a few years ago.
While manning a table at a local town fair, a woman approached us and became combative (in front of children, no less), expressing her opinion that she did not see a need for OSIP to exist, claiming OSIP is another form of a participation trophy.
This couldn't be further from the truth.
For some background, OSIP's mission statement is:
We would love nothing more than to not have to exist, but as it stands now, there are lots of eyes that can greatly benefit from being opened on the subject. Sportsmanship exists beyond athletic settings; it goes with us on the journey we call life. Competition plays a role in politics, the workplace, and many other facets and situations. Participation trophies do nothing to help young minds learn how to handle these scenarios. Winning isn’t everything (though the desire to win and give it “your all” on the field is celebrated); being able to lose and accept it with dignity is just as important than winning (if not more so). Learning how to lose in organized sports is an important lesson just as it is when you’re in the running for a job, an election, or any other related capacity.
“Participation trophies actually take away from the concept of sportsmanship,” said OSIP Chairperson Sean Ryan. “The process of winning and losing and how to accept those situations gracefully is a life lesson. Failing is learning while winning should be humbling. Participation trophies, depending on their context, can represent winning without trying. To truly experience winning, we first must experience losing and what it feels like. This way, outcomes are more appreciated and accepted.”
“How exactly would the Brian Stow incident or a young athlete yelling at umpires relate to a participation trophy?” asks OSIP Vice-Chairperson Sean Gough. “Were violence and whining the trophies? Seems telling, too, that those who bash from afar often stereotype by invoking participation trophies. Aside from the lack of originality, the confusion of decency with coddling already suggests a problem with their conceptions of sportsmanship.”
So, once the pandemic storm calms, if you see us at a community event, please stop by, say hi, and help us spread the good word. Heck, we will even sweeten the deal with some giveaway candy.
There is so much more to be said about this topic, more than I can muster in this blog post. But if you’ve made it this far: rock on! Please don’t let me bring your interest to an abrupt stop here.
Allow me to introduce you to “On Sportsmanship: A Critical Reader and Handbook,” available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle formats from Amazon. Happy reading, and happy good-sportsman-ing!
OSIP is always looking for more people who would like to get involved. Visit www.osipfoundation.org for more information. (Although, since we already have three people named Sean, if your name happens to be Sean, we may need to lovingly assign you a new alias.)