What Do You Call Sportsmanship? A Guide to Honorable Behavior in Sports

What do you call sportsmanship? If you’re a sports enthusiast, then you know it’s one of the most important aspects of any game. It’s something that’s talked about and praised when it’s present, and unfortunately, criticized when it’s not. Sportsmanship has always been a vital element that helps to define the character of athletes when they’re in and out of the game. It embodies qualities like respect, fair play, dignity, and patience.

When you think of sportsmanship, there are probably names that instantly come to mind. Athletes like Roger Federer, LeBron James, or Tom Brady. These are the people who embody what it means to be a good sportsman. They carry themselves with grace and humility and are respected not only for their athletic ability but also their behavior on and off the field. However, sportsmanship is not something that’s limited to the big names or the professionals. It’s something that we all have the ability to show, whether we’re competitors, fans, or coaches.

So why is sportsmanship so essential? In today’s world, where winning is often the only thing that matters, and athletes are often held up as heroes and role models, it’s crucial to remember that sports can also serve a broader purpose. By showing respect and fairness to our competitors, we’re also teaching ourselves and others valuable life lessons. When we win with humility and lose with grace, we model empathy and kindness. When we help our opponents up after a tackle or congratulate our opponent after a game, we’re promoting camaraderie and goodwill. Sportsmanship might seem old-fashioned, but it’s needed more than ever, and it’s up to all of us to demonstrate and encourage it.

Definition of Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship is a virtuous quality that involves fair play, ethical conduct, and respect for others in sports and competition. It is characterized by the ability to persevere through setbacks, demonstrate humility in victory, and display compassion for opponents, officials, and teammates alike. Sportsmanship plays a critical role in promoting a positive and healthy sporting environment, instilling values that can benefit athletes both on and off the playing field.

Importance of Sportsmanship in Athletics

In sports, winning is not everything. Sportsmanship plays a vital role in the success of any athlete or team. It is not just about winning, but it also encompasses the values of respect, fairness, and courtesy towards others. Sportsmanship helps create a positive environment both on and off the playing field. Here are some reasons why sportsmanship is essential in athletics:

  • Fosters Positive Relationships: Sportsmanship promotes a sense of camaraderie between athletes, coaches, and even fans. When athletes display good sportsmanship, they gain the respect of their opponents and the audience. This positive relationship helps to build a strong sense of community within the sporting world.
  • Encourages Fair Play: Sportsmanship lays the foundation for fair play. It means playing the game with honesty and integrity, without resorting to cheating, cheating, or dirty tactics. When athletes are in the habit of playing by the rules and showing respect for their opponents, the game becomes more enjoyable for everyone.
  • Promotes Teamwork: Good sportsmanship teaches athletes to work together as a team, emphasizing the importance of sharing and cooperation. It instills a sense of accountability, where each individual understands their role in making the team successful. Athletes learn that by working together, they can achieve great things.

As important as sportsmanship is, it is sometimes hard to define and achieve. That is why it is crucial for athletes, coaches, and parents to model good sportsmanship and to strive to instill it in their team. It takes time and effort, but the rewards are immeasurable.

To get a better understanding of what sportsmanship looks like in practice, take a look at the table below:

Good SportsmanshipPoor Sportsmanship
Applauding for both teams at the end of a gameTaunting or trash-talking the opposing team
Shaking hands with opponents and referees after a gameArguing with referees or coaches
Helping an injured opponent off the fieldIntentionally injuring an opponent
Respecting the rules of the gameBreaking the rules, such as taking performance-enhancing drugs

It is clear that good sportsmanship is desirable and that bad sportsmanship should be avoided. Furthermore, it is essential to remember that sportsmanship is not just about winning or losing. It is a way of life – a way of treating others with respect, dignity, and fairness. It is a principle that transcends the bounds of the game and makes us better people, on and off the field.

Examples of Good Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship is about more than just winning or losing. It’s about showing respect for yourself, your opponents, and the game itself. Good sportsmanship can have a positive impact on your team, your opponents, and even the spectators. Here are some examples of good sportsmanship:

  • Helping an opponent who falls or gets injured during a game.
  • Shaking hands with opponents and officials after a game.
  • Applauding good plays by either team.

These actions show that you are not just playing to win, but playing with integrity and respect for the game. It’s important to remember that your behavior on and off the field can have an impact on your teammates, your opponents, and even future opponents. By exhibiting good sportsmanship, you are setting an example for others to follow.

The Importance of Good Sportsmanship

Good sportsmanship is essential in any sport, at any level. It can make the difference between a positive or negative experience for everyone involved. When players exhibit good sportsmanship, it promotes healthy competition, respect for others, and a positive work ethic. Additionally, when players display good sportsmanship, it helps create a positive team culture, which can lead to a more successful season.

On the other hand, poor sportsmanship can have negative consequences. It can lead to conflicts, reduced enjoyment of the game, and even physical altercations. Poor sportsmanship also reflects poorly on the individual and can result in disciplinary actions from coaches, officials, and league administrators.

The Role of Coaches and Officials in Promoting Good Sportsmanship

Coaches and officials play a critical role in promoting good sportsmanship. Coaches should emphasize the importance of sportsmanship to their players and lead by example. This means modeling respectful behavior, applauding good plays by either team, and correcting any unsportsmanlike behavior.

Officials also play an important part in promoting good sportsmanship. They should enforce the rules of the game fairly and consistently to maintain the integrity of the sport. By doing so, they can prevent conflicts and reduce unsportsmanlike behavior.

Sportsmanship and Youth Sports

Good sportsmanship is especially important in youth sports. Young athletes are still developing their social skills and attitudes, and the lessons they learn through sports can have a lasting impact on their lives. Good sportsmanship teaches young athletes to respect others, work hard, and play fair. It also helps them develop self-esteem and confidence, and can lead to lifelong friendships.

Examples of Poor SportsmanshipConsequences of Poor Sportsmanship
Trash talking opponents or officialsCan lead to conflicts and physical altercations, disciplinary actions from coaches/officials/league administrators
Cheating, such as using performance-enhancing drugs or breaking game rulesCan lead to disqualification, loss of eligibility, and legal consequences
Taunting or mocking opponentsCan lead to reduced enjoyment of the game and conflicts

It’s important for parents, coaches, and officials to model good sportsmanship and reinforce its importance to young athletes. By doing so, they can help create a positive and rewarding sports experience for all involved.

How to Teach Sportsmanship to Young Athletes

Sportsmanship goes beyond winning and losing. It’s about embodying fair play, respect, and humility. Young athletes need guidance in developing good sportsmanship habits, as it helps them learn to work collaboratively and be gracious competitors. Here are some tips:

  • Lead by Example: As a coach or parent, your attitude and behavior sets the tone for your young athlete’s. Be sure to exhibit good sportsmanship at all times, even when emotions run high.
  • Discuss and Define Sportsmanship: Sitting down and defining what sportsmanship means can help young athletes understand it better. Discussing examples of good and bad sportsmanship can help them recognize appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
  • Address Poor Sportsmanship: It’s important to address any poor sportsmanship behavior displayed by young athletes. This can be done by talking to the individual or team and using it as a teaching moment to reinforce the importance of fair play and respect.

Another way you can teach sportsmanship to young athletes is by incorporating fun activities and exercises that focus on teamwork and collaboration. Here are a couple of suggestions:

1. Cooperative Games: Encourage your athletes to participate in cooperative games that involve teamwork, communication, and trust-building. These games foster an environment of collaboration, which leads to a better understanding of the importance of working together and being respectful towards others.

2. Sportsmanship Stations: Create stations for young athletes to practice good sportsmanship skills. For example, you can create a station that focuses on celebrating the accomplishments of others, or one that emphasizes teamwork and collaboration.

Good SportsmanshipBad Sportsmanship
Celebrating a win with humilityTaunting or trash-talking the losing team
Shaking hands with opposing team members after a gameRefusing to shake hands or being ungracious in victory or defeat
Showing respect for officials and refereesArguing with officials and making disrespectful comments

Remember, good sportsmanship is not only beneficial for an athlete’s personal growth, but it also fosters a positive and enjoyable environment for everyone involved in the game. By instilling good sportsmanship habits in young athletes, we can help them develop into gracious and respectful competitors who play the game with integrity.

Sportsmanship vs Winning Mentality

In sports, there are two opposing forces that drive athletes: sportsmanship and winning mentality.

While winning is the ultimate goal and drives athletes to excel, sportsmanship refers to a code of ethics surrounding the game that promotes fairness, respect for opponents, and graciousness in victory or defeat. A strong winning mentality can often overshadow sportsmanship, so it’s essential to understand the difference between these two concepts.


  • Sportsmanship is all about respect for the game and those involved. It includes fair play, respect for opponents, and an understanding that the game is more important than any individual player or team.
  • A true sportsman values the game above all else and strives to uphold its integrity.

Winning Mentality

A winning mentality is the drive to win at all costs. It encompasses a focused and competitive mindset, which can often put winning above all else. Athletes with this mentality may be willing to do anything to achieve success, including taking shortcuts or playing unfairly.

  • While winning mentality can push players to excel, it’s essential to maintain integrity and respect for the game.

The Importance of Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship is the cornerstone of every game, and it teaches us valuable lessons about life beyond the field. When athletes prioritize sportsmanship, they develop respect for their opponents, their coaches, and the game itself.

Having strong sportsmanship encourages players to work hard, respect the rules of the game, and understand that winning isn’t everything. When the focus is on sportsmanship, a sense of community is formed, and everyone involved becomes part of a larger team, where the only goal is to enjoy the game and to perform to the best of their ability.

The Negative Effects of Winning Mentality

While a winning mentality has its benefits, it can also be detrimental to the game, the players, and the community. In extreme cases, a winning mentality can lead to unethical behavior, cheating, and disregard for those around us.

Winning MindsetNegative Consequence
Winning at all costsDisregard for the rules and ethics of the game
Self-promotion over team successDisunity within the team, affecting team performance
Intimidation of opponentsDisrespect for opponents, creating hostility between teams

Overall, in any game, sportsmanship should be the top priority. When sportsmanship is prioritized, players develop healthy attitudes, work hard, and respect others, creating a positive environment for everyone. While winning is a worthy ambition, it should never come at the cost of the game’s integrity and the lessons we can learn from it.

Cultural Differences in Sportsmanship

While sportsmanship is considered an essential aspect of sporting events across the globe, cultural differences often influence the interpretation and implementation of sportsmanship. Here are some cultural differences in sportsmanship:

  • In Japan, athletes are taught to be humble and show respect for their opponents, coaches, and officials. This behavior, known as ‘rei,’ is a crucial aspect of their culture, which prioritizes group harmony and social cohesion.
  • Latin American countries such as Brazil and Argentina prioritize passion and intensity in their sporting events. Still, they are also known for their ‘fair play’ values, which emphasize the importance of ethical and honest behavior. These cultural traits are often reflected in their sporting events, where athletes celebrate and empathize with their opponents regardless of the game’s outcome.
  • In Scandinavian countries, the focus is on the importance of the game’s integrity rather than winning at all costs. Therefore, athletes often demonstrate calmness and a lack of expression in their competitions, irrespective of the outcome.

While these cultural differences may seem like a challenge, they also enrich the sporting world, providing unique perspectives and approaches to sportsmanship.

Here’s an example of how a sports team’s cultural background can affect their sportsmanship:

CountrySportsmanship Behavior
USAFocuses on celebrating individual achievement and winning; handshake rituals at the end of the game.
JapanPrioritizes group harmony and respect for opponents, coaches, and officials; bowing instead of shaking hands after the game.
BrazilEmphasizes passion and intensity during the game; hugging and celebrating with opponents after the game.
SwedenFocuses on game integrity and respect for the opponent; often displaying calmness during and after the game.

While it is essential to respect cultural differences, sportsmanship values, such as honesty, respect, and integrity, remain consistent across the globe. Recognizing these cultural differences can help promote dialogue and a better understanding of various sporting traditions across different regions.

Role of Coaches in Promoting Sportsmanship

Coaches play a crucial role in developing sportsmanship within their athletes. They can influence their team’s behavior and establish a culture of respect, integrity, and fair play. Effective coaches understand the importance of sportsmanship and intentionally promote this trait throughout their coaching career.

  • Lead by Example: Coaches should exhibit exemplary behavior consistently to instill sportsmanship in their athletes. Showing respect towards opponents, officials, and teammates sets an excellent example for athletes to follow. Coaches who demonstrate good sportsmanship create a culture of integrity and fair play.
  • Emphasize Teamwork: Coaches can use their platform to stress the importance of teamwork to their athletes. Encouraging athletes to put the team’s success over individual glory can help prevent unsportsmanlike behavior. When every player is aware of their role in the team, they are likely to support each other and maintain a respectful attitude towards their opponents.
  • Confront Unsportsmanlike Behavior: Coaches must address inappropriate behavior like taunting, trash-talking, unsportsmanlike conduct, and cheating as soon as they occur. Coaches who let these behaviors slide teach their athletes that they are acceptable. Instead, it is essential to show athletes that such behavior is unacceptable, and it harms the team’s reputation and culture.

Coaches should also model ethical decision-making by enforcing team rules, discussing the consequences of poor sportsmanship and holding themselves and their athletes accountable for their behaviors. Coaches can use positive reinforcement to acknowledge outstanding behavior and sportsmanship, which motivates athletes to exhibit those behaviors themselves.

Role of Coaches in Promoting Sportsmanship: The Benefits

Coaches who emphasize sportsmanship develop athletes that are respectful towards opponents, motivated to improve, and committed to the team’s success. Developing sportsmanship goes beyond just winning games and championships; it builds character, leadership skills, and personal integrity that athletes can use in their lives outside the playing field.

Benefits of promoting sportsmanship in athletes:
Positive team culture and environment
Improved relationships with opponents and officials
Less conflict and negativity in the team
Increased respect for the sport and its traditions
Development of leadership and communication skills
Improved self-esteem and confidence

In conclusion, coaches have a massive responsibility in mentoring their athletes and promoting sportsmanship. By prioritizing integrity, respect, and fair play, coaches can inspire their athletes to become better individuals and contribute positively to society.

FAQs: What Do You Call Sportsmanship?

1. Q: What is sportsmanship?

A: Sportsmanship is the act of playing a sport or game fairly, showing respect toward opponents and officials, and displaying good character and integrity.

2. Q: Why is sportsmanship important?

A: Sportsmanship is important because it helps maintain the integrity of the game, promotes fairness and mutual respect, and fosters a positive and healthy competitive environment.

3. Q: What are some examples of sportsmanship?

A: Examples of sportsmanship include shaking hands with opponents before and after a game, cheering for both teams, accepting defeat graciously and avoiding unsportsmanlike behavior such as trash talking or cheating.

4. Q: How can someone improve their sportsmanship?

A: To improve their sportsmanship, someone can practice self-control, show respect to opponents and officials, avoid unsportsmanlike behavior, and strive to maintain good character both on and off the field.

5. Q: What are the benefits of good sportsmanship?

A: The benefits of good sportsmanship include improved relationships with opponents and officials, a more positive and enjoyable playing experience, and a better reputation among peers and coaches.

6. Q: How can sportsmanship be promoted in youth sports?

A: Sportsmanship can be promoted in youth sports by teaching the values of fairness, respect, and good character through coaching, modeling positive behavior, and encouraging players to put these values into practice.

Closing Thoughts: Thanks for Learning About Sportsmanship

We hope you found these frequently asked questions helpful in understanding what sportsmanship is and why it is important. Remember, good sportsmanship is an essential component of any sport or game, fostering a positive, healthy, and fair competitive environment. By striving to display good sportsmanship and promoting it among young athletes, we can ensure that the love of sports endures for generations to come. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you back soon!