Sportsmanship is not dead

When I was a kid, my father taught me to be a good sport. “Nobody likes a sore loser.” he told me, “And nobody likes a sore winner, either.” At the time, this wasn’t any great revelation; that was how the world was. People were expected to be gracious about both winning and losing in competition. Now I’m not saying everyone was gracious, but that was what society expected.

Over my years of gaming on the internet, I’ve sadly grown to accept the fact that sportsmanship was dead, replaced by ‘trash talking.’ When you win, you’re expected to berate your opponent. When you lose, you’re expected to accuse the other guy of cheating or something. And this isn’t limited to the internet, I should add. We see it in sports of all levels as well.

This is, in my opinion, a sad, sad part of our current culture.

And so it is with delight that I can say, sportsmanship and healthy competition does still exist! As I said in my last post, I’ve been playing a lot of board games online lately. Mostly Go and Backgammon, but also Shogi, Xiangqi, Chess, Pente and a few others. At this point I’ve played (or am currently in) hundreds of different games against people from all over the world. And the ‘rudest’ exchange I’ve had is the lack of pleasantries. That is, some people who play silently rather than wishing their opponent ‘good luck’ at the start of the match, and ‘good game’ at the end of it. Again, let me emphasize that these silent opponents are the most rude I’ve encountered, and I think you’ll agree that this isn’t very rude at all.

The vast majority of opponents I’ve played against have varied from cordially polite to pleasantly chatty. I’ve had much stronger players take me under their wing to teach me a few tricks. I’ve had people apologize for playing too slowly, even when they really weren’t slow at all. In all, its been such a pleasant and encouraging experience that I keep waiting for the other shoe to fall!!

And the cynic in me wonders if nationality has a lot to do with this. I’d say that at least half my opponents have been from countries other than the US. Perhaps sportsmanship is still alive and well inside foreign shores…