Is Sportsmanship Dead?

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
I know that this is a bit of a philosphical discussion, but today's race really started my wondering whether or not the very idea of sportsmanship is dead.

In today's case, I objected to Grosjean's impeding Button, who quite clearly was the faster of the two at that point. Although not in contravention of the existing rules, I felt, and still believe, that such behavior has no place in sport, which has long been a supposed haven from the "dog-eat-dog" mentality of the boardroom.

Indeed, my objection to such behavior goes back decades. I recall one time when Jo Siffert, obviously one of my all-time favorite drivers, was running out of fuel in his Porsche with three laps to go. For those 3 laps, Siffert proceeded to twitch his car back and forth to keep the remaining fuel swirling in the tanks and therefore able to be picked up. A side effect was that his car became very "wide" indeed, making it impossible for the untroubled, faster cars behind him to pass. While on the one hand I applauded his never-say-day attitude, on the other, I decried the obstruction as unsportsmanlike and deserving of penalty.

So, the question is this: Have sports in general, and F1 in particular, become so money-centered that the boardroom philosphy of "win at any price" now universally prevails? Is the very idea of sportsmanship (how you win is at least as important as the winning itself) so quaint as to be totally irrelevant in today's world? If so, do you consider that a loss to humanity or not?
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
There is a single change of direction rule in F1 now, so drivers can't weave any longer as they once used to.

Surely part of racing is defending and by extension, drivers being able to overtake?
 

no-FIAt-please

Champion Elect
Premium Contributor
I don't think the idea of sportmanship is dead. The fact that many people still remember Schumacher's low points shows that how you win will be remembered.

As for today's race I think Grosjean was entitled to defend his position. Being able to defend is part of racing, just like Brogan says. Nothing unsportsman-like about it for me.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Indeed.
There have been many, many cases of cheating in F1 over the decades.
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
Actually, I would like to extend the question to other arenas. Given the Lance Armstrong scandal etc, are the monetary pressures of all sports today so great that there is no room for sportsmanship
 

Jen

Here be dragons.
Contributor
Endless rules negate sportsmanship.

There might be one or two on the current grid who would help a fellow in dire need but I wouldn't want to guess which.
 

Viscount

Pole Sitter
Contributor
Of course it did.

Witness Stirling Moss' action at the Portguese GP, which got Mike Hawthorn's points re-instated and cost Stirling the championship! What greater example is required?
I think my post was a little overly dramatic, I would put sportsman-like acts such as that in the minority though, when at the same time Stirling Moss also said this,
"I would never have signed a contract that said I wasn't No. 1 in the first place. In the latter part of my career, when I was senior enough, all my contracts said that I was No. 1, and as No. 1 I could then do what I liked. I took over other driver's cars and if I wanted an engine taken out of one car and put in mine then we'd do it."

Not much fair play or sportsmanship there when you want to win.

Merzario saving Lauda from engulfing flames. Senna stopping to help Comas. Would that be sportmanship?
Great acts, but I would put them in a different category to sportsmanship.
 

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
Can we exclude most of modern premiership football from this thread as that hasn't had a shred of sportsmanship in it for a while yet.

Although it still exists in football.

Leicester were playing Nottingham Forest in the Carling Cup Second Round and were losing 1-0 at half time. During the interval, Leicester defender Clive Clarke collapsed in the dressing-room. Fearing that his life was in danger, the game was abandoned and the decision made to replay it three weeks later. At the kick-off of the replay the entire Leicester team stood to one side to allow Forest keeper Paul Smith to dribble the pitch and restore the lead that they had had in the previous game

 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
Viscount,

That must have been Stirling's time at Vanwall. Subsequent to that, he drove for Rob Walker's team in privately entered, not-latest-spec Lotus. Chapman wouldn't sell Rob his latest gearbox, so the Walker team struggled with the Colotti. Chapman told Stirling "if you want the latest equipment, come race for me'! Stirling told him to stuff it!!

In an interview, Stirling said that "what people never understood was that I had to enjoy my racing. Driving for Rob was like driving for family. As long as Rob could supply me with a car, I would stay with him". If that doesn't sound like sportsmanship, what does?
 

Viscount

Pole Sitter
Contributor
Refusing to sell his latest gearbox so that the other team are competing with lesser equipment and to entice their driver isn't exactly sporting behaviour.

If I can take back my earlier post implying that sportsmanship never existed, I will say that I find most examples of admirable sporting conduct have always been rare occurrences rather than standard practice and it's something that just developed over time due to the greater importance of money (though it will be a motivation for some).

Moss patriotically starting racing only for English teams until he accepted that it simply wasn't enough to win, because just winning became more important (to an extent) for him than how he won. That said, I will accept the examples given and say that Stirling Moss was more sportsmanlike than most but I also feel that he's an exception.

How you win matters, but in my opinion it has and never will matter as much as winning itself because not everyone is capable of winning in 100% equal circumstances. For some people that's ok, but I'd say for the majority of sportsmen and women it's about getting that final result rather than testing yourself to the max against another person and accepting you weren't good enough on the day.

Take this timeline of performance-enhancing drugs in sport, people have always been looking for that edge over their opponents and depending on your moral compass people have always gone to varying lengths to achieve that.
 

ExtremeNinja

Karting amateur
Contributor
The day I let a faster driver past me simply because he is faster will be the day that I hang my helmet up. I wouldn't expect anyone to let me through either. It would defeat the entire point of racing. Sportsmanship doesn't even come into the equation as far as I see as if you remove the racing element of racing then it ceases to be a sport.
 

Fenderman

Rooters Reporter
Competing in a fair and honest way, sportsmanship is. I think, in the main, alive and well it is. A universal constant is the requirement for an opposite, thus the dark side too still is.*

Don't know why but I thought that would sound better coming from Yoda.:)
 
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