What makes a Good Sport?

I’m not the biggest Snooker fan, but I do really enjoy having it on in the background as I work. I hate working in silence, and sometimes TV or music is simply to “busy” noise if I am writing. Music also has a hugely emotional effect — often subconscious — so it can distract that side of creativity a little too much. And having the radio or anything with too much discussion involved has a very obvious downside.

Mark Selby and John Higgins

Snooker is different. Soft spoken voices; click, clunk; occasional applause. Sometimes it is the perfect underscore to work for.

Every now and again, however, it throws up a wonderful distraction of enjoyment — and that is what happened today. I’m not an expert on snooker rules, but I know that on some occasions if the player hits the wrong ball whilst trying to escape a snooker — and therefore committing a foul — the other player can ask that the turn is replayed. I think the tactic works well if the position is really difficult.

Like I say: I don’t know the rules in full, I just know it is part of the tactics of snooker.

John Higgins play a shot to escape a snooker set up by Mark Selby. Higgins missed his target red by a slither, bounced off the brown, and potted the white.

The balls reset.

He did exactly the same thing.

The balls reset.

Higgins did exactly the same thing again.

And there it was. A round of applause — the chances of that happening were slim once, amazing twice, astounding three times — shared laughter between the audience. And shared laughter and mutual respect between the players. To superbly talented sportsmen, fighting a close battle in a final worth £160,000 to the winner, and there they were, laughing over the second repeat of a slither-chance error.

On the fourth attempt, Higgins hit his target, the audience applauded, and there was a smile from Selby. What a pleasure to see in sport. Positive game play, mutual respect, and a shared bit of humour. Even when errors were being made, and the atmosphere had been tense, and the championship at the Crucible was on the line.

Good sportsmanship.

The Beautiful Game?

And then we have footballers.

I saw highlights of a Man Utd .v. Swansea game on Match of the day 2 yesterday. The game ended in a 1–1 draw after the other team managed to pull back a brilliant goal from a free kick. I then heard that they had gone done 1–0 as a result of a penalty decision that had gone against.

Yeh, right, as always, I thought.

Then we’re shown the replay. The player clearly dived to make it look like the goalkeeper had tripped him over. It was a clear dive because he had started his Oscar winning performance before the goalkeeper had even reached him. The ref was in a bad position, mistakes were made, and the penalty was given.

That cheating fucking bastard got the penalty. It wasn’t a dive where a player had gone a bit OTT with the way he fell after bumping into another player, it was an outright, lying bastard, cheating shit-bag, con of a dive. He ONLY did it to get the penalty, and he got the penalty. And it was scored. Had it not been for a stunning equalising goal later on, the entire match could have been WON on the back of that cheating moment.

Not the actual dive in question, but another example!

And that is why I really hate football. Not just because I find it an obscenely over-inflated, narcissistic, ego-driven, money-spewing cesspit of social depravity, but because it shows the common theme:

Lying, cheating, and breaking the rules can get you everywhere.

I’m told:

“It’s all part of the game.”
“The ref should have spotted in.”
“They are so passionate.”
“You gotta give him credit because [some bullshit reference to a goal he scored 3 seasons ago].”
“Well it’s about time they had a chance; the ref has been against them.”

And no matter what utter nonsense is spewed at me, I cannot get past the simple fact that the game is rife with cheating. Cheating, spitting dishonest, over paid neanderthals.

Role Models and Passion

What kind of role models are these people? To have no conscience about behaving so dishonesty in front of millions of doting fans. Kids who worship this morally vacuous sport and aspire to the fame and riches that it promises get taught that it doesn’t matter if you need to shit on someone else on your way up. It doesn’t matter if you are a liar or a cheat, as long as you don’t get caught.

Maybe that is what is drills down to these days. My utter hatred for liars who so freely play slip-shod with the truth whenever it serves them, and to hell with anyone else, as long as they get what they want. They feel free to justify their lies with some twisted logic of “passion.”

But those footballers are no more passionate about their sport than snooker players are about theirs. Football is no more skillful than snooker. In fact, I think there is significantly more discipline and technical skill involved in snooker…

…but I can admit to my bias being against cheating arseholes who just run around on a field kicking a mock-up pigs bladder around for 90 minutes, desperately trying to make a school-yard game look more complicated than it actually is.

What makes a Good Sport?

Good sportsmanship. (Or good sportsPERSONship, for the PC-obsessed.)

I don’t mind saying that when I was young I played Sunday League football — for my sins. I was a goalkeeper, in fact. On countless occasions I was caught out by my honesty when I had helped a ball go wide of my goal by just a slight touch. The ref had looked at me with a pleading “help” and I would gladly point at the corner flag and give the corner to the other side.

Why?

At the time, I gave it no second thought. Being honest to the referee was not a problem to me. And to be fair, when we were much younger I did have at least one good manager who was quite insistent that he wanted a fair playing team.

Also, because I was brought up to respect authority. Part of that respect is found in honesty.

Moreover, I was brought up to have integrity. Honesty is central to integrity: no exceptions.

But above all, as I got older, I understood the philosophy of good sportsmanship, which mirrors a general philosophy for life: I would rather lose honestly than win by telling a lie, any day, any competition.

I am not religious; I don’t believe in “karma.” I just believe in honesty, knowing that I can look a liar in the eyes and know that we will always know who the bigger winner really was because I know that one day my conscience will stop me doing something really stupid. But a liar will keep on lying, until one day a big wolf comes to eat them up.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Colin Ward’s story.