The Essence of Sport

Sports are played for the enjoyment of competition, the test and betterment of skills, and the thrills of victory.

We test ourselves against others to measure specific skills interesting to us and for the love of participating in our chosen sport. Those passionate about baseball might play for the joy of hitting a ball with a bat, while a racing driver might race because they enjoy driving fast.

Enjoyment of Competition

The point of sport is not to simply win (because there is nothing serious being wagered; no life on the line) but, to win fairly and on equal terms. To enjoy the competition of it and to be victorious on equal ground. To reveal our weaknesses as competitors, and to improve on them. To determine who has the best set of specific skills to win at specific competition. True sportsmen embrace the process of learning, improving, and engaging in a fair fight to understand where they lack as a competitor and how to get better.

Test of Skill

Sports are ruled to make sure each participant starts on fair grounds, and victory obtained by the ones with the most skill, knowledge, experience, and as little luck as possible, relevant to that sport.

If we achieve a level of mastery in a sport and find winning is too easy, we look to “move up” and find more challenges, because sport must be challenging to be enjoyable. When we find a sport no longer challenging, or fun to do, we lose interest and stop playing.

Thrill of Victory

For most people, victory is experienced far less often than defeat. Still, the pleasure that comes with winning in sport, keeps us coming back for more.

Because of these 3 things, we enjoy participating and watching sports. If we are lesser competitors we want to be assured that we can give it our all and in defeat know the better competitor won, while playing within the rules.

Cheating to Win

Sportsmanship: “ethical, polite, and fair behavior while participating in a game or athletic event. When one plays by the rules, is fair to his opponent, and gracious when he loses, this is an example of sportsmanship”

I once read a comment online on why someone cheated at a sport, paraphrasing the comment:

“I bent the rules, because it’s racing smart”

Cheating well is NOT equal to “racing smart”.

Cheating well means looking outside of the rules to gain an edge, rather than sharpening ones own skills or improving equipment to make one a better competitor. Even the phrase “bending the rules” is an admission to not playing within them.

Often, it is the lesser competitors who cheat to win, and these victories are tainted when the competitors are playing by different rules. When this happens, there is no longer sport, and the cheater not truly the equal he was hoping to be.

Cheating in sport is for losers. The ones who cannot accept with pride that they are a lesser competitor, (or lack confidence that they will become a better one) must prove they are better than the rest at all costs. They place themselves above the rules, above any reverence for the sport itself, to be “better”. When someone cheats at sport, they are no longer in competition with anyone else but themselves.

Conclusion

Sport is no longer sport, competitors no longer respected, and competition no longer enjoyable when others decide that winning alone is the objective.

To be sportsmen, we must have respect for our sport and competitors. Cheating does not make us better participants, it makes us less because we insist on not playing on equal terms and the thrill of victory is only for ourselves.

When a Champion is determined fairly, that champion sets a standard, an archetype for what it takes to win that is to be admired. When a champion is determined through purposefully bent rules, he has made himself a lesser competitor and the sport he participates in lesser as well.