After Further Review ... The game of football requires speed, strength, ability, and that all encompassing word - athleticism. When it is played at the professional level, it needs to not just possess, but exemplify, SPORTSMANSHIP. While that characteristic is true at all levels in all sports, those who play at the professional level should be leaders and examples of that trait.
Included in that word sportsmanship is the essence of the word: respect - which leads me to Super Bowl XLIII where the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23. What I saw, and hopefully you did as well, was the respect each team had for the other -- prior to the game, during the game and post-game, except for a single incident where Steelers LB #92 James Harrison "lost it" by pounding on a Cardinals' player during and after the play.
The Steelers were penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct for that foul, and many thought that Harrison should have been ejected from the game. My support goes to the official who called the foul and witnessed its severity first-hand. I had a lot of respect for Harrison, until he was penalized for that personal foul. When he lost his poise, he lost my respect.
I was taught to never, ever disrespect your teammates, your coach, your organization, and yes, even your opponents. The rules of a sport must be deeply woven into the identities of the participants. In my book, "It's the Will, Not the Skill," it states "you play to win the game," but I also strongly emphasize that one must "always keep your poise" and "do the right thing."
You don't play the game right just for the reward you might get at the end; you play the game right - and with respect - because that's who you are (or should be) and what you value most. The integrity of sports is not based on who wins the majority of the games; the integrity of sports demands that those who play it, respect it!
Tomorrow, March 3, 2009, is "National Sportsmanship Day." I have never been a fan of "days." Mother's Day, for example. We should never need a "day" to honor our mothers - that honor and respect should happen everyday. I feel the same about Sportsmanship Day - it needs to happen everyday and in every game! You can't teach sportsmanship; you need to model it!
Will you model sportsmanship in everything you do?
For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website: www.JimTunney.com, or if you would like to respond to this message, please send your email to Jim@JimTunney.com