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Good Sportsmanship

This News Note is available in packets of 100 and packets of 1000.

 “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes—not that you won or lost— but how you played the game.” Grantland Rice

GOLFER BRIAN DAVIS HAD THE CHANCE TO WIN HIS FIRST TOURNAMENT ON THE PGA TOUR. He was on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff. He was in the rough, and took his shot. On his backswing, he felt that his club might have touched an obstruction.That’s a two-shot penalty. Nobody said anything Nobody saw it. But Davis immediately went to an official to tell him what might have happened. It took a slow-motion camera review to see that his club had nicked a reed on the way back. He lost the tournament. When asked why he reported such a miniscule infraction that cost him the win, Davis said: “I could not have lived with myself if I had not.” Sportsmanship isn’t a denial of passion, competitiveness or the will to win; it’s character, on and off the field. It’s who we are, how we play the game, and how we live. Sportsmanship is the way we look at the world and the way we act in the world. We admire it in others and try to develop it in ourselves.

The virtues of sportsmanship In the broadest sense, good sportsmanship can be defined by the four cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. Prudence is the virtue of using one’s mind, heart and skill to seek what’s right and pursue it in the right way. On the field, it means playing to win according to the rules and with respect for opponents. In life, it means striving toward appropriate goals without selling our souls to attain them. Temperance is the virtue of keeping our desires within legitimate boundaries. In sports, that means approaching the game with perspective by understanding that it is a game, not a win-at-any-cost struggle. In life, temperance means not letting our passions rule us. Justice is the virtue of finding the common good, and working for it as part of the wider community. In sports, it’s defined as teamwork, striving for the success of the whole team, not our own personal achievements. In life, the virtue of justice is found in seeking harmony with others and what’s best for all God’s creation. Fortitude is the virtue of strength and constancy in good times and bad. It is courage lived. In sports, fortitude is playing the game with heart and strength, but always remembering that the key is how we play, not the final score. In our lives, fortitude means being true to ourselves, acting on our principles no matter the circumstances.