The Lost Art of Sportsmanship

I hate to name names (no I don’t , who are we kidding here?), but @MattKempFanPage on Twitter is a class A douche. And it sucks, because he’s a Dodgers fan. Which isn’t always a compliment.

Look, I love my Dodgers. That stems from loving baseball, which stems from loving sports, which stems from loving competition and challenges. I’ve played, watched, talked and written sports since I was just a toddling waddler, but along the way I never forgot the core values that sports demand. Specifically, sportsmanship. 

Sure, I’ve had my moments. In high school, I faked a tag at second base and the kid slid in hard, hurting his ankle. A few times I half-heartedly shook the soccer referees’ hands after a match and glared instead of saying “good game” (this may seem paltry, but I assure you that’s unsportsmanlike in soccer). And as all kids do, I refused to lose in anything, forcing as many rematch as possible against any opponent who beat me in any athletic competition.

But I’ve grown up, and every day that I watch baseball I realize another way that the game is beautiful and brilliant and perfect.

Baseball demands respect. It demands its disciples to play a fair, passionate, exceptional version of sport. Mental wars rage between and during every…single…pitch.

Not only do pitchers, hitters, coaches and fans have to be smart and loyal to love this game, but they must be quick, yet patient; relaxed, yet stubborn. And then after all the dust settles, even in the face of their most bitter rival, or even a day after an all-out brawl, they must be professional, courteous sportsmen to the highest degree.

Don’t get me wrong here – baseball is no golf or tennis. And you may even be confused by the vision of the winning team high-fiving and jumping around after each victory, as the defeated sulk back to their clubhouse, not a congratulations to be uttered.

But these players have the utmost respect for one another, and show it after the after parties end. Many of them are friends from meeting during Spring Training, or through agents, or media experiences. They take to Twitter to thank fans for their support, give props to fellow players on big games.

And the most simple-minded fan should understand. We should all realize that even more than our respective favorite teams, our favorite players and everything in between…the game itself is above it all.

It’s an art form, and it deserves to be treated like one. Therefore, when a piece of art is twirled as fine as something like a perfect game, you give the artist the congratulations and respect he deserved. Regardless of the jersey he wears.

The hatred I feel towards the San Francisco Giants is like nothing I’ve ever known before. It comes with the territory of being a die-hard, true blue Dodgers fan since the day I was born. I live in Giants country, and immerse myself in the greatest rivalry outside Yankees/Red Sox on a daily basis. I’m behind enemy lines, and I know more about the rival fan base than I ever cared to before.

And yet, I watched the end of Matt Cain’s perfect game. I enjoyed it. I frowned when the Dodgers lost that night, and the Giants gained a game in the standings. I was upset that my team lost a game they should have won. But that night was Matt Cain’s and Matt Cain’s only.

He threw a perfect game. It was incredible. He’s one of only 22 successfully perfect pitchers out of the thousands and thousands who have tried. And we all should revel in the moment as fans of this game. 

Dodgers fans get a bad rap from other baseball fans – some deserved, some based in fiction:

FACT – “We,” on average, show up late and leave early. That’s the nature of the beast when you’re living in Los Angeles, traffic capital of the universe.

FICTION – “We” have thug fans, more focused on picking fights than enjoying the game. L.A. is a rough area, and as with every fan base, we have some tough fans. But it’s hard to find a fan base whose population dedicates its heart to a sports team more than the Dodgers.

But let’s not give the rest of the fans out there another reason to hate on us. Let’s not be classless.

When the Giants score, let’s curse the day the opposing pitcher was born. When they win a game, let’s throw something at the TV screen. But when their ace pitcher throws one of the most ridiculously impressive, artistic games in the 150-year history of this sport?

Let’s stand up and give him a quick round of applause. Giants fans would do the same for us. Sometimes the ones you hate win and the ones you love lose. That’s the way sports work. If you can’t handle it, you’re in for a lifetime of misery and internal anguish.

And as for Twitterius Angrius Maximus from the beginning of this blog? Your hero Matt Kemp would surely congratulate Cain on such a fine performance.

Get a grip. Be a good fan of the Dodgers and the sport itself.

On a Happy Father’s Day, I’m going to keep preaching exactly what MY old man always taught me. Whether it be baseball, soccer, horseshoes or Scrabble. Play fair, play to win, and above all, be a good sport.

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One Response to “The Lost Art of Sportsmanship”

  1. blog Says:

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