Respect and professionalism in sport?
Canadian author Declan Hill wrote in the Ottawa Citizen regarding the heavily publicized boxing match between Justin Trudeau and Patrick Brazeau which raised money for cancer research. Hill touches on a number of subjects that we see in professional sport and compares the behavior of boxers and soccer players.
“When I took up boxing a few years ago, I was surprised by the level of good manners in the sport. I’ve played competitive soccer almost all my life, and, compared to boxing, the Beautiful Game is a nest of cheating, lying and whiny bad sportsmanship.
In soccer, for example, it is common for players to swear at the referee. Many fans regard it is as a sign of how hard a player is trying.
Many fans also think that pretending to be hurt to get your opponent penalized is a good thing, so much so that players falling over to draw a foul is now almost an art form.”
If we look at professional basketball, for example, we see a different set of problems. One of many issues with the modern game is that a bunch of pre-madonna’s are the stars in the league. Now a days, the littlest things are considered fouls. It’s also more about the cross over you just did, than tactically winning a game with defense.
Look back not too long ago at the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls of the late 80s and early 90s. They hated each other! Before games they didn’t even look at each other. They were more concentrated on their job and how they would help their team win. Now what do you have? Players from opposite teams are at half court before the game hugging, joking and farting around. This is the behaviour of an amateur and should be nowhere near a professional game.
Ultimately, the problem is coaches don’t have power anymore. What are they going to tell a player who’s making 10 times their salary? Is this what it’s come to?
As Hill mentions in the Ottawa Sun “the modern variation of the sport was organized by a 19th-century British aristocrat, and it still carries the vestiges of the code of the gentlemen. The referee and judges wear bow ties. The fighters shake hands with their opponent’s coaches and cornermen and, at the end of a long, violent fight, they frequently hug.”
I’m of the old school mindset. Soccer players and other professional athletes need to look at the respect that exists in professional boxing. Sure there will be cases of certain boxers with high profiles that behave erratically but overall there is far more respect in the sport and we can all learn from it.