The Poly doesn’t often write about things related to the world at large; most of the time we write about advice and goings-on in the context of college life. It’s something we’re more comfortable with, most of us being veteran students who have handled the massive workload of classes and extracurriculars. But in this issue, we’re going to discuss something much broader than college life, something that’s much more prevalent outside of Rensselaer than inside.
Sportsmanship is a topic on everyone’s mind today. It seems that every time we turn on a TV or open a newspaper, there is a discussion about it. The acrimony in sports is so intense, in fact, that it can even turn some athletes against their own teammates.
Of course, the obvious, recent example of unsportsmanlike conduct is the slew of events that transpired at the conclusion of the Mayor’s Cup game on Saturday. At the buzzer at the end of the game, Union senior defenseman Mat Bodie cross-checked RPI senior forward Brock Higgs initiating what ended up getting the two teams a total of 125 post-game penalty minutes and a slew of suspensions. In addition to the players’ foul play, Union Head Coach Rick Bennett charged at RPI coach Seth Appert.
Stopping the recap here, we’d like to make a very clear message: if a coach can’t demonstrate good sportsmanship, why would a player? Coaches, especially at the college level, are role models for their players. Whether Bennett was in a blind rage or not, he demonstrated to his players that fighting is perfectly acceptable, which, according to society and the NCAA rules, is untrue.
In another example, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman disrespected San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree in a nationally-televised, live, post-game interview. Sherman, although subsequently apologizing in writing and during press conferences, set an example for every person—young or old, male or female—in America who was watching that interview. He made it seem as though putting down another player is an acceptable thing to do.
We’re sure that almost everyone at RPI knows what is right and what is wrong; after all, you all got into a very prestigious institution. But then again, Bodie, Bennett, Higgs, and everyone else who got suspensions either got into good schools or were employed by them; Sherman has an almost $2.3 million contract from a team that is in the Super Bowl. So keep in the back of your head: sportsmanship is important, and unsportsmanlike conduct breeds the same. To make athletics more enjoyable and the world a better place, we all should just be a good sport.