A good sport

Section: 
Editorial

Sportsman – a person who behaves fairly and generously

There was a time when the British upper classes were mocked for their sportsmanship.

Too bad they were unsuccessful in spreading that concept to the masses.

If the world needs anything today, it’s a good dose of sportsmanship.

A couple of weeks ago, there was an uproar when France defeated Ireland in a World Cup qualifier when one of France’s players used a hand ball to help set up the winning goal. The professional player showed no respect for his sport. As any school kid knows, touching the ball with your hand in soccer is a no-no.

A story in the Sunday Star relates how minor hockey referees fear for the game and for their own safety. The  Star had a look at 122 Great Toronto Hockey league (GTHL) incident reports – they reveal a disturbing pattern of growing racism, hits to the head and referee abuse.

Last year, the KDSS boys hockey team was about to fold because of the lack of a teacher rep. Dana has a phys ed degree from the University of Toronto and believes kids deserve a chance to play. For that reason and the fact that our son is one of the coaches, she volunteered to be the teacher rep last year and this one.

Saturday, I went with her to Palmerston for day two of an excellent  20-team tournament run by Norwell District Secondary School.

Although there were teams from London, Guelph and Kitchener and other centres, I saw none of the ugly stuff that happens in the GTHL and other minor hockey leagues, even though the players would have learned their skills playing in minor hockey systems.

Why did the students just play hockey? Likely because high schools, for the most part, still encourage sportsmanship. The hockey was good and the players were having fun.

But sportsmanship starts at the top – professional leagues should be setting a proper example. Instead, the philosophy is win at any cost and many of the players seem to have little respect for one another or their sport.

So it’s not surprising that some teenagers engage in similar behaviour.

Even our politicians are poor sports – none of the parties engage in fair play. The last prime minister who believed in fair play, Joe Clark, was ripped apart by the jackals in the opposition and in his own party. Before him, PC leader Robert Stanfield was too honest to get the chance to be PM.

Our society would be much more civil if it were conducted in a sportsmanlike manner. Too bad the concept has fallen out of favour.

We need more Canadians like speed skater Jamie Gregg who gave up his spot in a race Saturday to allow fellow Canadian Jeremy Wotherspoon to compete in a World Cup race. Gregg had won a World Cup medal Friday. Such a sacrifice is unheard of in the sport, say observers.

It’s called being a good sport. Hats off to Jamie Gregg.

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In other news, a number of businesses and organizations in our community were good sports Saturday evening. The Santa Claus parade was one of the better ones in recent years.

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A correction from last week’s column: I said I remembered Dr. Lou Tusz singing in Fiddler on the Roof, a theatre guild production.

Actually, Lou sang a song from the musical, If I were a rich man, in a community singers production at the Aztec many years ago. It was Jim Peddie who played the lead in the theatre guild production. Lou was The Mikado in a guild production in the 1980s.

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The office dog, Daisy, has just completed a string of appearances in the theatre guild’s production of Annie.

I took her up to the old town hall for a couple of productions and noticed a strong musty smell in the theatre.

I asked a guild member about it and he said the smell is always there and some members go home with headaches.

Will that problem be fixed when the old building is renovated?