Sportsmanship is an attitude that strives for fair play, courtesy toward teammates and opponents, ethical behaviour and integrity, and grace in victory or defeat.
Sportsmanship expresses an aspiration or ethos that the activity will be enjoyed for its own sake. The well-known sentiment by sports journalist Grantland Rice, that it’s “not that you won or lost but how you played the game”, and the modern Olympic creed expressed by its founder Pierre de Coubertin: “The most important thing… is not winning but taking part” are typical expressions of this sentiment.
Key principles of sport include that the result should not be predetermined, and that both sides should have equal opportunity to win. Rules are in place to ensure that fair play to occur, but participants can break these rules in order to gain advantage.
Participants may choose to cheat in order to satisfy their desire to win, or in order to achieve an ulterior motive. The widespread existence of gambling on the results of sports fixtures creates the motivation for match fixing, where a participant or participants deliberately work to ensure a given outcome.
Doping and drugs
The competitive nature of sport encourages some participants to attempt to enhance their performance through the use of medicines, or through other means such as increasing the volume of blood in their bodies through artificial means.
All sports recognised by the IOC or SportAccord are required to implement a testing programme, looking for a list of banned drugs, with suspensions or bans being placed on participants who test positive for banned substances.
Violence in sports involves crossing the line between fair competition and intentional aggressive violence. Athletes, coaches, fans, and parents sometimes unleash violent behaviour on people or property, in misguided shows of loyalty, dominance, anger, or celebration. Rioting or hooliganism by fans in particular is a problem at some national and international sporting contests.