To be successful in sport, you need to have the right attitude. Honesty, dignity, fair play, respect, teamwork, commitment and courage are essential to lead a memorable sporting performance. All of these indispensible values can be summed up in the term ‘fair play’. Through various sporting events, the values of fair play can be put into practice in order to help make the world a better place. Hence, sport can be powerful by allowing young aspiring athletes to emulate their role models when playing in the spirit of fair play.
Many people define fair play as abiding by the rules of the game and to accept defeat. However, this not only the case when it come to fair play. Fair play is a complex notion that comprises and embodies a number of other values that are fundamental not only to sport but also to everyday life.
Respect, friendship, team spirit, fair competition, sport without doping, respect for written and unwritten rules such as equality, integrity, solidarity, tolerance, care, excellence and joy, are the building blocks of fair play that can be experienced and learnt both on and off the field.
Sport is very influential in today’s world as it unites and brings many people together regardless of their gender, race and ethnicity. Therefore, promoting fair play through sport can surely be a tool that ultimately will help to create awareness and leads to a better social world. Fair play in different kinds of sport can be emulated through:
Winning is without value if victory has been achieved unfairly or dishonestly. Cheating is easy, however it brings no pleasure and satisfaction. Playing fair requires courage and character. Fair play always has its rewards, even when the game is lost. Playing fair earns respect, while cheating only brings shame. Sporting individuals must remember that it is only a game and games are pointless unless played fairly.
Playing to win but accepting defeat with dignity:
Winning is the object of playing any game. Never set out to lose. If athletes or players do not play to win, you are cheating your opponents, deceiving those who are watching, and also fooling oneself. Never give up against stronger opponents but never relent against weaker ones. It is an insult to any opponent to play at less than full strength. Play to win, until the final whistle. However, it is difficult to win all the time. You win some and you lose some. Learning to lose graciously is the way forward and do not seek excuses for defeat. Genuine reasons will always be self-evident. Congratulating the winners with good grace is also another form of fair play. After a loss one must be determined to do better next time. Good losers will eventually earn more respect than bad winners.
Observing the Laws of the Game:
All games need rules to guide them in order to protect and safeguard the athletes taking part. Without rules, there would be chaos. The rules of in various sports are simple and easy to learn. As an athlete or player, understanding the game better will make you a better player. It is equally important to understand the spirit of the rules. They are designed to make the game fun to play and fun to watch. By sticking to the rules, the game will be more enjoyable and appreciated.
Respecting opponents, team-mates, referees, officials and spectators:
Fair Play means putting forward the value of respect. Without opponents there can be no game. Everyone has the same rights, including the right to be respected. Teammates are colleagues and they form a team in which all members are equal. Referees are there to maintain discipline and Fair Play. Sporting people must accept their decisions without arguing, and help them to enable all participants to have a more enjoyable game. Officials are also part of the game and must be respected accordingly.
Spectators give the game its life and generate an atmosphere. They want to see the game played fairly, but must also behave fairly by respecting themselves and the other sets of supporters.
Promoting the interests of the Game:
The value of different kinds of sport always needs everybody’s help to maintain its greatness. Think of the game’s interests before your own. Think how your actions may affect the image of the game. Talk about the positive things in the game. Encouraging other people to watch and play fairly is also positive for the game in context. Honouring those who defend the Game’s good reputation:
The good name of sports such as football has survived because the vast majority of people who love the game are honest and fair. Sometimes somebody does something exceptional that deserves our special recognition. Players should be honoured and their fine example should be publicised. This encourages others to act in the same way. Thus, helping to promote football’s image by publicising its good deeds.
Rejecting corruption, drugs, racism, violence, gambling and other dangers to sport:
Sports’ huge popularity sometimes makes it vulnerable to negative outside interests. Athletes and players should watch out for attempts to tempt them into cheating or using performance-enhancing drugs. Drugs have no place in sport or in society as a whole. On the other hand such athletes should help to kick drugs and out of the world of sports. Hence, all players must treat everyone else equally, regardless of their religion, race, sex or national origin. Showing zero tolerance for gambling on games in which you participate is also another type of fair play, especially nowadays that gambling activities are on the increase. It negatively affects one’s ability to perform and creates the appearance of a conflict of interests.
Helping others to resist corrupting pressures:
In some instances, athletes or players may hear that teammates or other people they know are being tempted to cheat in some way or otherwise engage in behaviour deemed unacceptable. These people need one’s help in order to give them the strength to resist the temptation. Reminding them of their commitment to their teammates and to the sport itself is essential.
Denouncing those who attempt to discredit sport:
Individuals must not be ashamed to stand up to anybody who is trying to make others cheat or engage in other unacceptable behaviour. It is better to expose them and have them removed before they can do any further damage. It is equally dishonest to go along with a dishonest act. They must denounce those misguided persons who are trying to spoil the true value of sport before they can persuade somebody else to say yes.
Different kinds of sport, especially Football, have an incredible power, which can be used to make this world a better place in which everyone can live. Using this powerful platform can help to promote peace, equality, health and education for everyone. Furthermore, fair play allows making the game better, taking it to the world, and fostering a better world.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games said: ‘The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.’
Competition can be severe but you should always first look for joy when practicing any sports. You should never forget about the play even in the heat of the fight.
Fair play, which is an essential and central part of successful involvement, promotion and development in both sport and life, can teach people tolerance and respect for others. It allows them to integrate into society and create a sense of teamwork. Fair play in sport is capable of giving hope, pride and identity, and it is able to unite where nationalities, politics, religions and cultures often divide.
Cooperation in the spirit of fair play delivers even greater results than pure gamesmanship in all walks of life. It plays a key role, the role of a catalyst in today’s society as a means of improving quality of life and human wellbeing.
In the history of sport there have been many athletes, from great and celebrated champions to lesser-known competitors, who lived and competed in the spirit of fair play. All of them were individuals with different characters but they must also all have had something in common. Their exemplary behaviour and heroic acts have shaped their environment and contributed to the enhancement of social wellbeing. Their stories tell us a lot about what we could do to build a better world.
As an example of such sportsmanship, World and Olympic Champion pole-vaulter Sergey Bubka (Athletics, Russia, Fair Play Trophy for action) in 1995 he helped his South-African rival, Okkert Brits, on two occasions by lending him his equipment. Firstly, on 3 July after learning that Brits equipment had not arrived at the Paris Grand Prix, Bubka offered him his poles so that he could compete. Again, on 9 September at the IAAF Grand Prix Final in Munich, Bubka repeated his generous act. This time, however, it cost him victory as Brits vaulted a winning 5.95 m while Bubka’s final jump was just under at 5.90 m.
This example teaches us that fair play is not a theory. Fair play is an attitude that manifests itself in behaviour. Whenever we act in the spirit of fair play we contribute to building a peaceful and better world. Values such as respect, friendship, tolerance and solidarity are the building blocks of fair play and can easily be expressed in the interactions of everyday life.