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Whatever happened to good demeanour in sport?

Words by Sarah Wilmore, 2nd Year English Literature & Creative Writing. 

Professional sport has seen a recent rise in athletes like Sergio Garcia and LeBron James bending the rules and misbehaving.

On February 2, the European Tour disqualified Sergio Garcia from the Saudi International because he damaged the greens. The Spaniard’s temper rose during his third round, and he purposefully slammed his putter into five greens, damaging them for the following groups. 

Garcia broke Rule 1.2a that states players must act with integrity, show consideration to others and take good care of the course. The Committee disqualified the 39-year-old for serious misconduct having broken all aspects of this rule. 

While disqualifying Garcia shows that etiquette is still integral to golf, it is not possible to penalise all athletes.  LeBron James stormed off court ten seconds before the game finished on 2nd March after his LA Lakers teammate, Brandon Ingram, missed a three-point attempt. The La Lakers lost 120-131 to Milwaukee Bucks adding to a string of defeats this season. The three-time NBA champion showed blatant disregard for his teammates and opponents as he left the court without shaking hands. 

However, with footballers continuing to dive faking an injury and tennis players arguing with the umpires it is not surprising that poor etiquette is now becoming “normal” in professional sport. Misconduct will only disintegrate if other athletes stand up to those who don’t compete with integrity. 

On day three of the third Test in Saint Lucia, Joe Root rebuked West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel on-field saying, “there’s nothing wrong with being gay.” While it is not clear what Gabriel said, one of the on-field umpires spoke to him about his language. Root challenged homophobic sledging showing that cricketers do not accept discrimination and misconduct in their sport. 

Although sports like golf specify proper behaviour in the rules, this is something all athletes should promote. While the modern era is seeing good manners disappear, you can take up a sport at university and compete with integrity. Sport is a great way to demonstrate on your CV that you are a skilled individual with good manners. 

About Taz Usher

English Language undergraduate and Entertainment Editor for the Spark Newspaper.

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