Editor’s comment:

Post-covid sport, Whatever happened to sportsmanship?

It’s been a long time coming, but sport is back! Wimbledon, Euro’s and Lion’s tour all thrilling to watch. It’s been a pretty poor time for sport in general with all these Covid restrictions preventing spectators or disrupting fixtures completely.

I’ve been so excited to see competition return and showcase the best of the best. Watching the Six Nations showed how much is missing when there are no spectators its a sterile and surreal experience and lacks the atmosphere that drives the players on and brings the pure sense of occasion to any sporting altercation.

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We’re now seeing a big rise in spectator participation and the world is seemingly returning back to normal. There just seems to be one thing lacking, and that’s sportsmanship and fair play. I’m not sure if it’s the Covid induced isolation that has reset everyone’s code of conduct, but I’ve been shocked to see such examples of poor sportsmanship and terrible spectator behaviour.

Since when did it become so accepted for players and supporters to behave so badly? I kind of expect to see footballers hurling themselves to the floor in chaplin’esque displays of slapstick acting, but it’s now a structured part of the game. Pundits and supporters alike seem content with this evolution, but where do we draw the line and separate strategy from blatant cheating and game manipulation?

Speaking of the supporters, since when was it ok to boo opponents national anthem? This is surely not the sort of conduct we want to see on an international level. Don’t get me started on the scumbags who boo when players opt to take a knee out of respect and acknowledgement of the rampant racism and race disparity in professional sports.

Sadly this sort of behaviour doesn’t stop with the stereotypical football yob, it’s seeping into all levels of spectator sports including Wimbledon!

Since when was it so acceptable to cheer at players when they make a mistake or miss a shot? Now this does get a bit more contentious than general football yobbery, as where do you draw the line between a player putting so much pressure on their opponent that it forces the mistake. Should that skill not be acknowledged and celebrated? It’s a harder line to define for sure, but still it’s embarrassing as a human being to watch spectators jeer and cheer at every mistake made by the opposition player. Surely this isn’t what Wimbledon is about…

This toxic behaviour is everywhere. Even in tolerant and inclusive sports like rugby, I was embarrassed to be stood in the crowd of England supporters singing “swing low sweet chariot” to disrupt the All blacks Haka, it’s just fucking disgraceful for this conduct to be so widely adopted and accepted by general consensus. I’ve even seen it spill into junior sporting fixtures more and more, and there’s absolutely no need for opposition parents to be hurling abuse at kids or volunteer referees or coaches. It’s happening every weekend, regardless of the sport.

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In this new world of outrage amplification through social media and aspirational personality traits swaying towards narcissism, it seems to me that we need to just be more tolerant and kinder not more judgemental and critical.

Whilst this formula should apply to nearly every aspect of life, its essential we regain control of our sporting conduct and start to do as the word supporter suggests, and simply support.

If you find yourself attending a sporting event this year, please consider your behaviour and in case you’re still suffering from post-covid human interaction deficit syndrome, please take one big deep breath and say the following words to yourself “Don’t be a c**t!