Praising Sportsmanship, Raising Sportsmen

Demetrius-de-Moors

An inspirational story and a reminder that “Sporting” has two definitions.

The stories that most move us do so because they contain within them the ideals we’re most drawn to. When I first watched the video below about Demetrius de Moors, a high school wrestler from Peachtree City, Georgia, and Michael Lind, a student with Down Syndrome who is from the high school that hosted the prestigious South Metro Wrestling Tournament – I was moved to say the least. You will be as well. Upon watching again, however, I was drawn not only to the selflessness and sportsmanship, but to the idea that sportsmanship is something to be praised, something we raise our children with, something we as a collective society value enough to celebrate – even make awards of.

Demetrius de Moors won the 2012 National Sportsmanship Award. That’s right. An award for sportsmanship actually exists. The St. Louis Sports Commission’s Sportsmanship Initiative offers the award, which includes scholarships to:

…make St. Louis a model community for good sportsmanship and to create positive environments for kids to play sports so they remain active and lead healthier, happier lives.

Too often today, kids are turning away from playing sports because of an over-emphasis on winning, unrealistic expectations by parents, over-specialization, or simply, sports are no longer fun.  These factors put the long-term health of youth sports – and most importantly the health of youths themselves – at risk.  After all, the benefits of participating in sports are numerous, from a decreased risk of obesity to learning lifelong lessons about character and teamwork.  Still, 70 percent of youngsters drop out of sports by age 13.  It’s the goal of the Sports Commission to reverse that trend in St. Louis.

I’m reminded of how, a few weeks ago, Chicago Bears Defensive End Julius Peppers reached down and helped up a player from the opposing team. Such an act doesn’t and shouldn’t be a big deal, but in my years of watching the NFL it felt comparatively rare compared to the post-whistle taunts and touchdown theatrics. Well done, Demetrius. Well done, Michael. Well done St. Louis for creating an initiative that judges and even praises our youth through the other definition of “Sporting”:

“Fair and generous in one’s behavior or treatment of others, especially in a game or contest.”

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About Cameron Conaway

Cameron Conaway is a former MMA fighter, an award-winning poet and the 2014 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona. He is the author of Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet, Bonemeal: Poems, Until You Make the Shore and Malaria, Poems. Conaway is also on the Editorial Board at Slavery Today. Follow him on Google+ and on Twitter: @CameronConaway.

Comments

  1. Touched my heart. I know that my brother dropped out of baseball because of a verbally abusive coach. And I dropped out of field hockey because it became way too intense. Too much pressure to preform, not enough fun. I loved the sport but the coaches tended to be very goal oriented in one direction, winning. Which obviously isn’t bad onto itself but there are many other benefits from playing in organized sports. And a great one is displayed here.

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