YLC BLOG: COMPETE WITH SPORTSMANSHIPYOUTH LEADERSHIP COUNCIL | USTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAY 10, 2023 | DRAKE NGUYEN
YLC BLOG: COMPETE WITH SPORTSMANSHIPUSTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
MAY 10, 2023
Good sportsmanship on the display at the Friendship Cup.
(Photo – Jon Mulvey/USTA SoCal)
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Competition. That’s the word that describes the nature of all sports. Competing means challenging, battling, and fighting against rivals for a desired goal. Sports nourish this burning feeling of exhilaration in many athletes, instilling in them values of commitment, discipline, and perseverance. However, when this winning attitude becomes too powerful to the point where it suppresses conscience and dignity, the integrity of the sport begins to break down.
This is especially true in tennis. When bitter remarks, crushing criticism, and unjust actions emerge during a match, both players walk away with a loss, no matter who actually “won.” Immoral and foul conduct lowers respect for the sport, respect between the players, and respect for the audience. Luckily, there is a renowned remedy that helps athletes correctly apply their conscience to competition. It’s called sportsmanship.
To compete with sportsmanship means to compete in a fair, honorable manner. Sportsmanship strengthens an athlete’s honesty, confidence, virtue, and character. By aiming to harbor affability and graciousness, sportsmanship does more than just unite two players; it helps tie together an entire community, reducing the number of grievances and disagreements between athletes, coaches, and parents. As a tennis player, there are a few things you can do to demonstrate fine sportsmanship on the court:
#1 – Give the other player the benefit of the doubt.
When unsure of the opponent’s actions or calls, it is best practice to trust them. The foundation of good sportsmanship involves compassion and understanding, as it increases your awareness of the situation. Putting a seed of trust in your opponent also plants one in you, motivating you to perform better in the match.
#2 – Make your score calls and “out” calls clear and decisive.
Calling the score loudly and clearly before the point begins will help to minimize score discrepancies. When calling a ball out, give a clear verbal and physical sign (with the index finger), which also helps to reduce disagreements about the score in the future.
#3 – Strive for fair play.
A tennis match should be fair for all players on the court. Therefore, if you see acts of misconduct by your opponent, don’t hesitate to call for a referee. At tournaments, these officials are present to ensure fair play throughout the matches. Getting one doesn’t mean you’re bitter toward your opponent; it indicates that you care about the match’s integrity and wish to compete in a fun, equitable, and respectful environment.
#4 – Exhibit optimism.
Before the match, when you first meet your opponent, greet them and introduce yourself. During the match, after you both play a hard-working, excellent point, go ahead and admit it to your opponent. After the match, no matter the result, acknowledge the opponent for their effort by offering a handshake or tapping rackets. Overall, strive to be positive and passionate, as this combination will allow you to respect others and others to respect you.
These actions constitute what it means to be an esteemed sportsman. When you integrate good sportsmanship into your game, others will quickly follow. Demonstrating courtesy for your opponent, promoting fair play, and maintaining a positive attitude raises honor for the sport, for other players, and for you.