The Frontstretch: While Not Required, Sportsmanship Is Still The RIGHT Thing to Do by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday July 9, 2009

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While Not Required, Sportsmanship Is Still The RIGHT Thing to Do

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday July 9, 2009


Pronunciation: \-ˌship\
Function: noun
Date: 1745
: conduct (as fairness, respect for one’s opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport

The above is the definition of sportsmanship, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

Most of us learn of it and its use when we are children. Many learn it at a very young age when they begin playing games with other children. Whether or not you participate in sports as a youth, you’re taught to be a good sport.

As a young child, you learn rather quickly that if you lose a game and grab your ball and go pouting off towards home, that the other children are less likely to play or be even less friendly when you play the next time. You learn even quicker if you are playing a board game with your family and you throw your game piece and a tantrum if you are not the winner.

Should you miss this lesson before your school age years, you will be learning of sportsmanship throughout your educational years, whether on the playground or in a sports setting. The higher you go, especially in sports, the more you are expected to display its use. In some sports — take football, for instance — your team can even be penalized if you are judged to be displaying unsportsmanlike conduct.

But hey, let’s just say you are one of those that grew up with that chip on your shoulder. You may be a talented individual, and perhaps may have played a sport at a collegiate or even semi-pro level, but in your recreational life, when you are out with the “guys” playing pool, softball, poker, or whatever, and you display immature or boorish behavior — just see where that gets you!

We all know people like that. People that are generally OK… until they lose at something or don’t get their way. When that happens, are you inclined to want to play with them again? And what is your opinion of them then? The answer is that they are usually thought of as an ass. Suddenly, you “forget” their number just before the next poker game!

Accidents, like this one on the last lap at Daytona, are an accepted part of racing. Acting like an arrogant, petulant, self-absorbed, sniveling little cry baby afterwards is not.

The point to all this is simple: there is right and there is wrong. It is wrong to act like an arrogant, petulant, self-absorbed, sniveling little cry baby if and when you should happen to lose. If you did NOT learn all this when you were young, one of the following (or maybe a combination) of things may have happened — either your parent(s) were negligent in your upbringing, or they weren’t negligent and you are just stupid, or… you just choose to be an ass. It is as simple as that.

As I said earlier, the older you get, the more that is expected of you. If you are a NASCAR driver, a person that has reached the pinnacle of the motorsports world, there is NO EXCUSE for displaying unsportsmanlike conduct or petulance when adversity (or the wall) rises up to bite you. Did you hear me? NONE! I don’t care how talented you are or think you are, at this level there is no excuse for it.

As with any sport, game, or competition in general, there are going to be high levels of emotions. That is a given, but there is a time and place for those emotions AND there are proper ways and avenues to express them, too.

In NASCAR, sportsmanship after a loss or wreck is not required, but it IS expected no matter who you are, how talented you are, or how old you are. Anyone who chooses not to use it AND those who dismiss or defend it are just plain wrong.

The choice is up to the individual. You can be “class”… or you can be “ass.” One is right and one is wrong.

‘Nuff said.

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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07/09/2009 07:44 AM

AMEN, Brother!
Excellent post. I was having a discussion with a nice gentleman in the stands at Darlington earlier this year concerning the standing ovations that PeeWee Herman got when he cut a tire near the end of the Nationwide race, and then wrecked in the Cup race. While I agreed with him that PeeWee has obvious talent as a driver, I noted that he has a LONG way to go as a human being. …not sure if he’ll ever get there if no one calls him on his behavior. Several of my friends and I agree that he is SO completely disgusting that we can no longer bring ourselves to go anywhere near M&M’s any more. Come to think of it, that may end up being the only way he’ll ever learn – by losing a sponsor because of his antics.

07/09/2009 07:59 AM

Excellent article. Well-said. Talent is great, but how someone handles adversity tells you more about a person than success.

Glad to hear that I’m not the only ones who gave up eating M&M candies. I work at avoiding all M&M Mars candy. If they want to sponsor him, fine, but they don’t get MY money for their product.

07/09/2009 10:12 AM

Yep, GREAT article! I too gave up M&M Mars. I even sent them a letter telling them I was and why. I got a polite email back basically saying, “oh well.” Maybe though, if they get MORE letters (emails) like that, they’ll start listening?. This JERK is advertising to KIDS!! Would I allow my children or my grandchildren to act that way? Oh HELL no!! He so needs to be taken out behind the tool shed and beat severly on the behind until he gets it!!!

07/09/2009 11:26 AM

I don’t know if this site hates Kyle as much as nascar but it’s close…yet another “Kyle-bash” article.

I don’t give one damn bit about Kyle’s antics when he’s not in the car. And most of the media are so full of themselves that I like to see them get the middle finger.

When I watch nascar I want to see the drivers do everything and darn near anything to get the win. Except blatantly take out another driver like Dale did so many times.

I’m so damn sick of drivers “points” racing or not performing at their best. Almost half the current cup drivers need to be replaced.

We already have too many nice, polite, PC guys. They used to be called “sissys”. This sport has become so vanilla it’s turning the casual watcher away.

In all my years of following nascar (since ’78) I’ve never come across the level of negativity nascar gets now from the average Joe. I’m a trucker who goes all over and when nascar is brought up the thing I hear more often than not is that the sport is boring.

Nascar needs more Kyle-like drivers…and more short tracks (but that’s another subject.)

07/09/2009 12:17 PM

Where’s Jimmy Spencer when you need him?

Curtis webster
07/09/2009 12:24 PM

Mick, I don’t think anyone is arguing the fact that Kyle can wheel a race car with anyone, or the fact that he does not points race like some. The problem is his behavior in both victory and adversity. Whether he wants to be or not, by being a pivotal member of a major racing entity he is held up as a role model by young people who think he is cool. He needs to show some class in victory lane as well as in the garage with a wrecked race car.

07/09/2009 12:44 PM

I think that this is a great article. Any Kyle apologists when it comes to his antics are just as blind as some Jr. fans (of which I am one) who claim he is the best driver ever. I was always taught to ‘give props’ to whomever beat me, no matter what sport it was. I always respected the fact that they, on that day, were better than I was. If I had stomped off and acted like a brat, then I would have gotten my tail beat, probably with a belt. Of course, it’s obvious that some of us were raised differently than others. I would rather have an entire field of sportsman-like “sissies” as one previous commenter put it, than a field of arrogant, brat-like no-class drivers. And, one more thing. For TRUE competitors, and those who care about sports, they RESPECT the fact that someone is good enough to beat them. Wanting to win terribly has nothing to do with how you act when you lose.

07/09/2009 02:10 PM

So Kyle messes up on the track and doesn’t want to sit and take stupid questions about it from people who saw exactly what happened… this is now poor sportsmanship?

If you want to criticize Kyle’s sportsmanship, at least do it for a legitimate reason: he and Carl Edwards treating the Nationwide series like a playground.

07/09/2009 03:23 PM

Once again, the only thing that is worse than Kyle is the crybaby writers who won’t shut up about him. If he really is a petulant brat, then even negative attention is going to just make him continue. Too bad writers have forgotten how to ignore a brat, they just go for the easy article.

Lunar Tunes
07/09/2009 05:07 PM

Gee guys, maybe I am missing something here…I read and re-read this article and never once do I see ANY DRIVER’S name mentioned at all!

All I see is an article on sportsmanship! Did maybe the author hit a nerve that all the Kyle defenders felt? I dunno. Kind of reminds me of that scripture in the Bible…..“The guilty flee when no man pursueth!”

Yep, just read it all again…..still don’t see any names, car numbers, references to specific races or instances…..nothing! Funny how the Kyle Busch fans feel slighted by this! Great work, Jeff!

07/09/2009 06:15 PM

What an article—a long diatribe about something analagous, apparently to KB, but w/o ever really saying anything!

Jeff Meyer: if you have something to say, say it rather than “beat around the bush” at it (pun intended).

As for me, I’d rather hear a disappointed driver say nothing than go into a rant. I thought KB handled himself very well, considering the state of mind he probably was in.

If he had said something, I’m pretty sure all you “I hate KB commentators” would have bashed him for it, just as you do here for his saying nothing.

07/09/2009 06:24 PM

The picture in the article sure isn’t referring to any one particular driver at all. No siree bob.

Jeff Meyer
07/09/2009 06:38 PM


I did have something to say and I said it! It doesn’t matter if it is Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmy Johnson, Smoke, Robby Gordon or whomever.

Anyone who displays unsportsmanlike behavior (no matter how they do it) is wrong, especially at this level. And….AND…so are the people who condone or dismiss such actions.

You feel bad about this article….well if the shoe fits, then you have every right to be proud to wear it, but you are still WRONG!

Is that ‘taking the SHORT way around the barn’ (no bushes on that side!)enough for you?

As for the picture Ryan, that is an editors choice. I have nothing to do with pictures attached to my articles unless I specifically ask or submit them myself, which I did not with this article.

And speaking of articles…here is a good one with quotes from Kyle Busch himself.

As always everyone, thanks for taking the time to read and post!

Jeff Meyer

07/09/2009 07:08 PM

Bad sportsmanship? How is not talking to the media bad sportsmanship? You are not his competitors, you are people who write about it because you couldnt do it yourself. Just because you stick a microphone in someones face after a crushing loss on the last lap and he doesnt take your questions doesnt mean he is a bad sport. He rectified the situation with Stewart himself at a later time after he had cooled down. Cooler heads prevailed in the long run, and yet kyle can still do no right by you, so why would he try?

Lunar Tunes
07/09/2009 07:49 PM

Wow! Another one that sees something in the article and comments that is invisible to the rest!
Who said that not talking to the media is ‘bad sportsmanship’?

But since you brought it up, backin 2007… Tony Stewart was fined $10,000 and placed on probation through Dec. 31 for skipping media obligations after finishing second at Phoenix International Raceway on April 21. Stewart left the Phoenix track without fulfilling his media obligations because he was upset with a second-place finish.

Now, not saying this is the case with Kyle after Daytona, but there IS precedent set by nascar that they consider it “unsportsmanlike” to not talk to the press in some situations. Again, not that that is necessarily the case with Kyle at this last Daytona, but we have seen him storm off before after a top 3 finish in more than one nascar sanctioned event. Just sayin….

07/09/2009 11:58 PM

Wow, Jeff. Apparently I hit a sore spot.

By the way, I don’t feel bad about your article: I have no reason to, for I didn’t write it.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.