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Bad sport?

中国日报网 2013-03-19 12:08

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Reader question:

Please explain “bad sport” as in this sentence (Economist.com, February 23, 2013): Criminal courts in Japan have long relied heavily on confessions for proof of guilt. Though the accused have a right to silence, failure to admit a crime is considered bad sport.

My comments:

Failure to admit a crime after committing it is considered, in other words, unsportsmanlike, i.e. contrary to fair play and other generally accepted rules of social behavior.

Committing a crime is hardly a sport but that’s where “bad sport” stems from at any rate. In the sports field, there are all sorts of behavioral codes that go beyond winning and losing. Ideals like fair play and sportsmanship are what make a player sportsmanlike or, such a bad sport.

Ideally, a player should win and lose with dignity and class. If he wins, for example, he should show proper signs of restraint in celebration. That is to say, he does not showboat too much and especially does not rub it in the face of losing component, say, by running circles round him while brandishing his fists and shouting insults.

If he loses, he’s supposed to maintain his dignity and decorum by shaking hands with the winner instead of, say, leaving the court without acknowledging his opponent or the fans.

In team sports, such as basketball and soccer, players often admit verbally to a mistake they have just made. “My bad”, they say out loud to their surrounding teammates.

Obviously in Japan, courts expect criminals to do the same, i.e. own up and make life easy for everybody else involved. If a criminal insists that they’re innocent after being caught, say, lighting a fire to a warehouse red-handed, that is, of course, despicable.

Such behavior is considered beneath normal criminal conduct. It’s a no-no. All criminals of character and integrity should be above such contemptible behavior.

Well, one doesn’t always talk of criminals in the same breath with words like character, interiority and moral fiber, but then again all criminals are not the same.

Anyways, you get the point.

“Bad sport”, in short, is the opposite of “good sport”, one who is considered proper in words and conduct, on and off the court, in winning condition and adversity alike and a good fun to be around.

Here are media examples of “good sport” and “bad sport”:

1. At 10 years old, Averianna Wheeler already boasts more than four years of fundraising and business experience. The Bells Elementary student has run “Averianna’s Pink Lemonade” stand outside of Bottino’s ShopRite in Washington Township during the summer months since she was barely out of kindergarten.

With ingredients donated by Bottino’s, Averianna sells her signature pink lemonade to raise money for breast cancer research, donating more than $3,000 over the years. That’s a lot of lemonade.

“I started doing my lemonade stand when I was six years old,” said Averianna, an astoundingly well-spoken and articulate fifth grader. “I really wanted to help because I saw how breast cancer was a really bad disease and really wanted to help people.”

She’ll start pouring the cool drinks on May 12 from 11 am to 1:30 p.m., and, like every year, her family will be on hand to help.

Her little brother is the official taste tester, and her parents help her get everything ready.

“It’s really fun, and I get to talk to people,” Averianna said, adding that countless people stop and share how breast cancer has affected them or their loved ones. “They share experiences they had with breast cancer or family members that have had it, and they thank you for what you’re doing.”

That includes Averianna’s family as well. Her grandmother is a breast cancer survivor, and she lost an aunt and her grandfather to lung and brain cancer, respectively.

“She just has such a huge, caring heart in everything she does,” said Toni Wheeler, Averianna’s mom. “Sometimes it’s excruciatingly hot out, but she’s such a good sport. She knows she’s doing something good.”

And the community does as well. With the stand in its fourth year, many Bottino’s customers know to look for the little girl in pink.

“A lot will email me ‘Oh when does her pink lemonade start for the season?’ She passes out fliers in school, to family and friends and hands them out throughout the neighborhood,” Wheeler said. “She’s got a lot more support, more people coming out. They look forward to coming. There are regulars that shop at ShopRite, and they’re there every year.”

In addition to Bottino’s donating the lemonade, a dollar store donates all of the other accessories, cups, pitchers and more—all pink.

“Everything’s pink,” Wheeler said.

- Washington Township 10 year old sells lemonade to raise money for breast cancer research, NJ.com, May 04, 2012.

2. Margaret River residents have accused a company looking to mine coal near the south west town of being a bad sport in not adhering to the environmental umpire’s decision.

The Environmental Protection Authority’s report released yesterday warned against LD Operations’ proposed underground mine, a recommendation the watchdog had made public earlier this year.

The company at the centre of the controversy has now appealed to the Environment Minister to make a more rigorous assessment of the proposal, accusing the EPA of ignoring critical expert advice.

But Margaret River resident Ian Parmenter says the company is refusing to take no for an answer.

“It’s just farcical, they are just clutching at straws, the potential dangers to the water in this region should rule it out completely, not just for this one mine but from all other proposed mining in this south west corner,” he said.

He says no further studies are warranted and coal mining has no place in the tourist region.

“The EPA made a thorough analysis of the information that was provided to them and came up with the only logical answer which was this is totally unacceptable,” he said.

- Residents label coal mine company ‘bad sport’, ABC.net.au, May 03, 2011.

3. When it comes to kids’ athletics, most parents practice good sportsmanship. They know how to behave in the stands and create a laid-back atmosphere.

But some parents act as if there aren't any rules. For them, winning comes first – and controlling their emotional outbursts comes last. More than ever, bad-sport parents are creating problems for everyone who loves fun and fair play, experts say.

Perhaps you’ve read about parents who recently made headlines with their brazen behavior. Last month in Dade County, Fla., about 20 parents brawled at a T-ball game for 4- and 5-year-olds.

“One of the kids thought that the parents were staging a wrestling match,” says Doug Abrams, a law professor at the University of Missouri Law School who tracks parental violence in youth sports. “But it was a brawl.”

In a much more extreme recent case, Thomas Junta allegedly beat another parent to death at a Lynnfield, Mass., hockey rink. Upset when a young player shoved his 10-year-old son, Junta snapped and started punching Michael Costin. Junta was ejected from the rink, but returned and beat Costin unconscious in front of Costin’s sons, police said. Costin died; Junta was charged with manslaughter.

“Ugly, ugly situations exist,” says Fred Engh, president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports. He's also the author of “Why Johnny Hates Sports.” “Is it ludicrous insanity? You bet.”

Abrams says: “Parents aren’t perfect; they’ve always acted up and done things kids are ashamed of. But things have gotten much, much worse in the last five or 10 years.”

What’s gotten into adults? “Part of it is the society that we live in,” Abrams says. “It’s gotten a lot more confrontational and in your face.”

Two developments also have changed the picture: fat college scholarships and pro sports contracts.

“Parents see the success of Earl Woods with Tiger Woods and want to do the same thing,” Abrams says. “But the chances are about 1-in-20,000 that your kid will make it.”

Abrams, who has coached youth hockey for 31 years, believes many parents live out an intense desire to succeed through their kids. When kids are surveyed as to why they quit youth sports, “the answer they give most often is that it’s not fun anymore, that the parents and coaches, the adults, have taken the fun out of it. There’s too much pressure to win.”

How bad is the parent problem? Engh’s organization estimates that the percentage of parents involved in confrontations and violent incidents at games has soared over the last five years from 5 percent to 15 percent.

“But kids can help their communities to stand up,” Engh says.

One way is to follow the example of Jupiter, Fla. In February, that town made its coaches go through special training in how to handle young athletes. It also required 6,000 parents in its youth programs to attend a one-hour sportsmanship seminar. If parents refused, their kids couldn’t play.

“It’s a national model,” says Engh, whose organization helped set up Jupiter's new guidelines. “Not one parent has taken their kids out of the program. And the best thing of all is that through the baseball and softball seasons, there hasn’t been one parental incident...”

About 200 communities have similar systems, Engh says. For more info, visit www.nays.org or call 1-800-688-KIDS.

Other towns have recently opted for more drastic measures. Last season, a suburban Cleveland youth soccer league experimented with “Silent Saturday,” a day when parents and coaches could not yell or even open their mouths at games.

“Most parents don't misbehave at youth sports,” Abrams points out. “Parents have a lot to offer kids. But they have to realize that youth sports are for the kids. Adults are the guests, and they should act like responsible guests.”

He adds: “If there were no parents in the stands and no coaches, the kids could still play.”

If your parents are bad sports, you could sit down with them and talk about it. You know your parents best and whether you can get through to them. If so, Engh suggests a low-key approach to address the situation: “A kid can say to the parent, ‘You’re embarrassing me’.”

- Loser behavior: When adults on the sidelines are bad sports, kids' athletic competitions turn ‘ugly, ugly’, Chicago Tribune, October 17, 2000.

 

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About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

 

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(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:陈丹妮)

 

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