It’s as much an issue with some as the final score, how to accept both victory and defeat. A number of people have written to share their views on humble “winners” and unhappy “losers”.

In the days after our recent blog on the the state of Wisconsin athletic association banning student cheering sections from certain cheers (like “air ball”, “scoreboard”, and “why so quiet?”), there has been more response, and good response, than there was room to include it in the January 26 posting of “The Reader Speaks”.

If you’re reading about this now for the first time, Wisconsin’s governing body for high school sports has outlawed any cheer that they deem taunting, insulting, or even disrespectful to an opposing team or fan base. Apparently they’ve never heard the phrase, “kids will be kids”. And accordingly, the Wisconsin wing of Heaven should be quite large!

But a number of people who did read have taken the time to share their thoughts about the subject of “sportsmanship”, or more appropriately, “legislated sportsmanship”,  as it pertains to other, more sensitive and egregious issues of modern society.

With their permission, we share:

“I absolutely agree that most of the “sportsmanship” you see in a handshake line after a heart-breaking loss is less than sincere. I officiated high school football for 22 years and can guarantee you that words spoken between teams are often anything but friendly and respectful.  There’s a reason why it was discontinued in parts of Kentucky.” … Bill Blankenship

“My view on sportsmanship?  I’d rather see kids learn how to handle winning than learn to dignify losing. There’s nothing dignified about losing, and it’s a poor life habit to start that early. Kids should be upset and emotional, but not at the other team. You have to learn from it, and learn not to repeat it.  Enjoyed the article on WIAA (Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association), but there are more important problems that deserve the focus.”  Jack (Columbus)

“The Wisconsin people are definitely out of touch with competitive emotion. As you stated, you cannot “flip a switch from warrior to ‘welcome mat’ in a nano second and pretend to be happy and genuine in accepting a disappointing outcome.” … Tim Bingham


Cris, from Coldwater, wrote to share a lighter side of sportsmanship:

“On a related note, you might be interested to hear about a recent game at Versailles when they hosted the Marion Local boys basketball team.  You know that the MAC conference is pretty tight relationship-wise.  But the communities of Versailles and Marion are especially close.  The students from both schools generally hang out together on weekends and, of course, there are all those family ties.
The students did something that I had never heard of before.  They traded seating locations and they traded teams!  The Marion students cheered for Versailles and the Versailles students cheered for Marion!  Now this is kids not taking the game too seriously and having fun while cheering.  I wonder what the knuckleheads in Wisconsin would think about this example of student-led sportsmanship rather than adults trying to legislate sportsmanship. Enjoy your work.” … Cris Cron

“Sportsmanship (humility) is a human shortcoming that’s existed since the beginning of time. It’s laughable that government, athletic associations, and school administrators believe that it will be observed through legislation. We have laws for everything in America, and we break them all. Ever wonder why?” … Doug Holly

And then, this….

“The obsession with winning has created the same type of social dynamic as poverty and inequality of opportunity. When one group demonstrates its domination over another there cannot be such a thing as true sportsmanship. Inequity is inequity in any form.” … Syl