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  What Has Happened to Sportsmanship in this Country?

We have forgotten how to win and lose with class.

By: Gary Jones
Published: 2/2/2015 4:38:33 PM

While growing up in Southern California, my brother and I attended many sporting events.  We went to the Dodgers, Rams, Lakers, USC, UCLA, and high school games.  They were fun to go to and I enjoyed them whether my team won or lost.  My brother and I decided to end our 40 year drought and go back to LA for the USC/UCLA game this past November.  

We were in the UCLA section and I stood out in my USC gear.  I was completely surprised by the rudeness and cockiness of the fans.  A male USC and a female UCLA fan got into it.  They went off on each other and the F bombs flew very loudly in our section despite the fact many young kids were around us. When I stood up to cheer a USC touchdown, several fans yelled at me to sit down.  I am not saying that the USC fans would act any differently, because they wouldn’t.  Fans today are rude and out of control at many sporting events.

When did this all change? When the players on the field started acting like jerks.  When I was young, there was no such thing as trash talking.  We respected our opponents.  All we did as fans was cheer when our team did something good or when the other team did something bad.  If a player made a QB sack, he just went back into his 3 point stance and tried to do it again.  He didn’t dance round like he just won a gold medal.  As an athlete, we tried to emulate what we saw on the field, and that’s exactly what is happening today.

What have these young athletes seen in the last 20 years?  MJ and Larry Bird being tremendous trash talkers.  Lynch grabbing his crotch when he scores.  Players celebrating a simple play there supposed to make.  In yesterday’s game, Baldwin acted like he crapped out the football after he scored, which NBC chose to not show us. He cost the team 15 yards, but he also got high fives when he went  to the bench.  And all the while our young, impressionable athletes, who long to act like their sports heroes, see them acting like idiots.

I got on Facebook this morning and it was all about yesterday’s Super Bowl, but many posts were insulting and rude.  They attack each other just for being a fan of a team.  Many had posts laughing at Sherman because of his lack of respect for Reevis #24.  But what they don’t realize is they are acting just like him.  When I coached in high school, there was a coach who rubbed it in all the time.  Full court presses with a 30 pt lead were common.  I had many people tell me to wait until we had a team who could do the same to him and get even, but I refused because if I did I would be acting just like him.  I would rather win with class and use that as my example of how it should be done.

Why have we lost the ideal of winning and losing with class in this country?  It’s a problem that only seems to be getting worse and it worries me.  With all the hate and rude comments today, the obscene body gestures, the constant trash talking, it seems to me they have all forgot one important fact:  we are talking about a game.  However, the “game” has involved into a billion dollar industry. And it irritates me when these athletes and coaches won’t answer media questions.  Can the media ask stupid, annoying questions?  Yes, but does cashing their million dollar check annoy them? How many of us would do daily interviews at our work if our paycheck was 7 figures?  I know I would.

I’m not sure I will go back to a professional game again.  I would rather avoid these obnoxious fans of today and enjoy the game in the comfort of my man cave.  That saddens me, though, when I think back to my youth and all the fun we had at those games. Like Bob Dylan sang in my youth, the times they are a changing…and not for the better.


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