Baltimore Orioles: Sportsmanship matters at all levels
Admittedly I come at this issue from the perspective of a writer who covers a sport in which Sportsmanship is a key aspect. For the Baltimore Orioles and all of baseball, sportsmanship is part of the game. And please don’t misread what I’m saying; it’s a key part of the game in every sport. But baseball is one of the only ones in which it’s enforced to the point that teams will retaliate (in the form of throwing at people) if they feel they’re being disrespected.
That said, I witnessed something on last night which stood in stark contrast to the sportsmanship that we see in Orioles games and throughout
Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
baseball. In the Rose Bowl game between Florida State and Oregon, most of the Florida State sideline headed to their locker room following their blowout loss without shaking hands with the Oregon team (who had just beaten them). If you were following my twitter feed at the time, you probably saw me refer to this as a despicable and gutless act. And I stand by those statements.
I’m not a fan of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston because I feel he’s brash, arrogant, and that he’s done some shady things. However to his credit, he was one of the few players who walked across the field and shook the hands of the Oregon players. And while I’m never really going to be a fan of Winston’s attitude and antics, that’s not something which is lost on me. However the fact that I’m naming players who actually did the right thing by their team and their sport also says something about where some people place the element of sportsmanship in our games nowadays.
In fairness, the Florida State players weren’t the only ones guilty of this. Oregon had a few players who allegedly taunted Winston with a chant of no means no, as they shook hands – a reference to rape allegations against Winston in the past. So you had a scene whereby Winston was one of the few FSU players who did the right thing in shaking hands after the game, and he was rewarded for that by taunts. Not only that, but he was rewarded for that with taunts about something that’s no laughing matter.
I’m not suggesting that baseball has some sort of moral superiority or anything along those lines, however the fact is that you wouldn’t see this in baseball. And you shouldn’t see it at any level of sports. A couple of folks pointed out to me on twitter that the Maryland Terrapins’ football team had pulled a similar stunt prior to their game against Penn State last year. That’s very true, and again if you follow my twitter feed you know that I had a similar reaction to that when it occurred.
I don’t want to come off as a crass “old guy” complaining about the youth of today. (Although at 33 – soon to be 34 – I’m hardly your stereotypical “old guy”…I hope.) But as a kid playing sports I was taught that you ALWAYS shake hands with the other team after the game – win or lose. And I firmly believe in those sentiments today. I knew that at seven years old; so I don’t have much sympathy for 18-22 year olds who can’t seem to understand that. Furthermore for that reasoning, I don’t buy the excuse that they’re young kids and they don’t really know any better yet.
Ultimately nobody broke any laws in this scenario, however as I said sportsmanship matters in games. The fact that Jameis Winston is being lauded for doing the right thing while his teammates did not should tell us something. Generally it’s the bad apples who kind of stand out; when someone’s standing out for doing the right thing in the midst of a majority who are doing ill, there’s an issue.