2006.06.23 Teammanship and Sportsmanship
It comes in different flavors. Lately I've been reminded of some sports that really seem to have a great team ethic, or display some great sportsmanship. To me these things can be opposites in a way. Sportsmanship is essentially rising above the sport – remembering that there is more to life than sports. Teammanship (if it's even a word, since Webster's doesn't say so) seems to be keeping your team the most important thing in the game, but sometimes it is also to raise that team's importance to a level above the game.
For teammanship, I think of hockey. The NHL season just finished up, and they have a great team ethic. I'm not a huge fan, but I enjoy watching it (live games seem to be the best). From my limited experience, it appears that the goalie is essentially untouchable. If anybody ever tries to rough up the goalie, it seems to be that somebody on the goalie's team is sure to retaliate. The offender is going to get decked, cross-checked, beat up, or something like that. But somebody on the goalie's team is sure to send that friendly message. Don't mess with the goalie.
For sportsmanship, I was reminded of soccer. Again, I'm far from the most knowledgeable on the topic, but one thing was recently brought to my attention about the sport. Allow me to rant (in a good way) for a bit about soccer
I'm really enjoying the World Cup, and I think it's a freakin' awesome event. I wish the US was as excited and involved in soccer as the rest of the world seems to be. The hype, the comradery, the passion – all pretty cool (except when it gets past fanaticism to being psycho and killing people who make bad plays or calls). This World Cup I'd like to see any number of teams win - Brazil, England & Spain (among other teams) all seem to have some really solid teams.
Back to the sportsmanship thing now… When somebody gets hurt, for whatever reason, the team with the ball has this unwritten obligation to kick the ball out of bounds so they can attend to this player. Yeah, that's pretty cool and all, but I think even nicer than that is what happens when play resumes. Since the other team gets the ball, they actually return the ball to the originating team, so that play can pick up where it left off before the ball got kicked out.
Pretty simple things, but it seems to lend a more human side to these sports. Hockey isn't all that friendly to begin with, but at least they watch out for their own. Soccer can get a little rough, so it's nice that the do their part to allow the players to get help when needed, then not have to suffer for helping that player out. Here's to sports… here's to people.