What matters in sport is not victory or defeat but how you play the game. This is what is known as sportsmanship. Sportsmanship is one of the most desirable qualities in any great player whether they be a cricketer or tennis player, a footballer or any sports person at all. The spirit of sport separates the excellent from the mediocre, the grain from the chaff. It shows the quality that needs to be imbibed by everyone, whether they be a player or your Average Joe.
What exactly does the spirit of sport imply? It is the sum total of cool under pressure, modesty, humility, sympathy and above all an element of humanism.
If we look around us, we can see numerous examples like in 1999, at the ICC Cricket World Cup held in England, Australian captain Steve Waugh showed true sportsman’s spirit when he walked into the South African team’s dressing room, after their incredible semifinal match in which the South Africans were eliminated to sympathize with them and compliment them on having played a fine game. The sporting Australian Captain refused to gloat over his victory, sympathizing with the side that had lost despite having played a fine game. Thus Australians showed and kept the true spirit of the sport.
The spirit of the sport reflects not only a commitment to follow the rules of the game but to give credit where it is due to the better side, instead of looking for scapegoats to justify one’s own failures. In earlier times the sports were played by taking full care of the spirit of the sport and strong emphasis laid on the inculcation of the value of true sportsmanship. Today, however, the situation is different both in sports and in real life. With ‘the winner gets it all’ attitude prevalent today, the spirit of the sport is affected adversely.