Competitive ≠ Asshole

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.*

*Let’s be clear about our logic here. I’ve said that sincerely congratulating the opponent is a good indicator that you’re not an asshole; I’ve NOT said you’re an asshole if you don’t do it. The two are not the same. You don’t have to pat your opponent on the back every five minutes, though I personally love it when players show each other genuine respect when it’s earned.
There’s a whole continuum between being actively unpleasant to your opponent, and being actively nice to them. All I’m saying is that your position on that spectrum is nothing to do with how competitive you are. Pretending it’s OK to be unpleasant in the name of competitiveness is deluding yourself. Perhaps – take a deep breath – you’re just unpleasant…
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5 Responses to Competitive ≠ Asshole

  1. JamesB says:

    I’ve also found that being nice to a really “pumped” player after they score can really take the joy out of their celebration. It’s hard to be aggro when someone is being nice to you, and if being aggro is where you play best it can be quite disruptive.


  2. Anonymous says:

    …and yet another reason why that particular OSU player won the Callahan Award this year! More love for Cassie!


    • Got to admit, had I known who she was I’d have made more of that fact. Nice to see the right people win awards. On the other hand, how cool is it that I called her out for this without knowing who she was? If you can compete at that level, win the Callahan, and still have your attitude noticed by someone who doesn’t know you or your accomplishments, that’s pretty sweet. More love indeed.


  3. Michael says:

    In addition to all this greatness, and completely unrelated to the topic of this post, but related to your post of 2014/10/27, the flight path of the disc looks like a prime example of the standard scenario you describe at the beginning.


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