USAU posted three links today to great plays from the college championships. My favourite? This one.
Why? The OSU player who congratulates her.
I’ve seen a disturbing amount of clips recently where someone makes a great play but lands on an opponent, and is too busy celebrating to check whether that opponent is OK. I’ve seen many examples of slightly unpleasant self-congratulation in the face of a defeated opponent. I don’t like it. I love to see players respect each other’s efforts.
This isn’t some elitist, frisbee-hippy argument that unpleasant or self-centred people shouldn’t play ‘our’ game – not at all. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to win, and wanting it badly.
I’m merely arguing that being an asshole is not related to how competitive you are. I know uncompetitive people who are hugely unpleasant, and I know incredibly competitive, world-games-attending, happy-to-play-physical guys who nevertheless maintain an admirable attitude. How you choose to treat your opponents is indicative of who you are, not how competitive you are.
So if you’re a nasty, misanthropic heap of neuroses, fine. But let’s not pretend it’s because you’re ‘competitive’. And let’s not give your team-mates the impression that they need to treat the opponent as an enemy in order to get psyched up, just because that’s how you play.
It’s not a sign of weakness to show respect to your opponent. It’s not a sign of a lack of desire if you treat them with courtesy.
It’s just a sign that you’re not an asshole.*