The first time that I was kind of struck by this was during a varsity girls soccer game between Long Trail School and Mount Saint Joseph's Academy. At the beginning of the second half, Long Trail - which was in a significant hole - came out aggressively. During the course of play one of the Long Trail players collided pretty hard with an MSJ player, knocking her down. The Long Trail player not only offered the girl a hand up, she asked if she was okay and apologized. At the end of the game, after the players had finished going through the line for the traditional high-five and "good game" exchange, one of the LTS players went up to one of the Mount Saint Joseph players and apologized to her for something that had happened during a game the previous year.
Earlier this year, the Arlington girls soccer team edged Mount Saint Joseph's during overtime in the Division IV quarter-final match.
When they were going through the line at the end of the game, the MSJ's coaches wished Arlington luck in the next round and encouraged them to bring home the state championship.
During the Burr and Burton Cross Country Invitational, runners who had already completed the course and coaches shouted words of encouragement to those runners coming down the chute toward the finish line. Having witnessed this cross country meet and others in the past, I've always been struck by the sense of camaraderie between runners irrespective of whether they are representing the same school or not.
Incidents of sportsmanship like the ones that I have mentioned above are not only good to see, they're refreshing. It's not something that you are traditionally going to see if you tune in - or attend - a professional sporting event. In fact, what you see in professional sports more often than not is examples of poor sportsmanship.
Last year, in celebrating after his own dunk, Los Angeles Laker forward Metta World Peace - formerly known as Ron Artest - hit the Oklahoma City Thunder's James Harden with a vicious elbow to the head. Though Artest - sorry I just can't call him World Peace - apologized after the game and said he hoped Harden was okay, he didn't bother to check on him, apologize or even help him up at all when the incident occurred. That, at the very least, is poor sportsmanship. Furthermore, for some - if not many - who witnessed the incident, the sentiment seemed to be that it was not unintentional as Artest had claimed.
While the aforementioned incident with Artest was the first that came to mind, there have been several both recently and through the years that have been just as bad or worse. Roberto Alomar who spit in an umpire's face and Mike Tyson who bit off a portion of Evander Holyfield's ear during a Heavyweight Championship Title bout are a couple examples that come to mind.
Given that it's the incidents of poor sportsmanship that we may tend to see more often, there's a certain level of satisfaction in knowing that good sportsmanship still exists. And while it's unfortunate that we don't see it more out of our professional athletes, it's a least good to know that it is alive and well and being practiced by our student athletes.
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