photo courtesy Voice In Sport
In a recent email exchange with our friend and Big Spoon Roasters sponsored athlete Maddy Price, who recently competed for Team Canada in the 4x400m relay at the 29th Summer Olympics in Tokyo, our conversation turned toward the importance of fairness, generosity, integrity, and respect in sport.
We were, of course, talking about the collection of values known as “sportsmanship.” Sportsmanship is an important set of values that should be taught to young people, but is there any reason the word should be gendered male?
What Is good sportsmanship? It's basically when people who are playing or watching a sport treat each other with respect. This includes players, parents, coaches, and officials. Traditional examples:
- Bring a positive attitude, rejecting defeatism.
- Try your best.
- Shake hands (when not in a pandemic) with the other team before and after the game.
- Support teammates by saying "good shot" or "good try." Never criticize a teammate for trying.
- Accept calls and don't argue with officials.
- Treat the other team with respect and never tease or bully.
- Follow the rules of the game.
- Help another player up who has fallen.
- Take pride in winning but don't rub it in.
- Accept a loss without making excuses.
It’s easy to make the case that by being a good sport, one learns respect for others and self-control, which are important life skills. Nothing, and I mean nothing about these life skills are unique to males, and given the challenges girls and women already face in sports, Maddy and I think it’s time for a new word, and she deserves the credit for coining it: sportship. Why bother with that erroneous middle syllable of sportsmanship when all it does is lengthen a word without assigning it any relevant meaning?
Can someone please call the Merriam and Webster families and get us a pitch meeting? If you’re reading this and know someone at the OED, we’d appreciate an introduction.
In addition to her extensive coaching and training commitments, Maddy is a Pro Athlete Mentor for Voice in Sport (VIS), an advocacy platform providing resources and mentorship for women in sport. VIS has a mission we can get behind: “to bring more visibility to female athletes and elevate their voice.” To name a few challenges facing women in sport: (Source: Voice in Sport)
- Girls drop out of sports at a rate 2x that of boys at the age of 14. Girls of color in urban and rural areas drop out at 2x the rate of suburban white girls.
- 51% of girls drop out of sports by the age of 17.
- 48% of female collegiate athletes have reported experiencing depression or anxiety.
- Only 55% of female athletes said they knew how to access mental health support, despite 80% of the same survey saying they knew how to access physical health support.
- Among female high school athletes in aesthetic sports, 41.5% reported disordered eating. Furthermore, they were 8x more likely to incur an injury than their non-disordered eating peers.
- 1/3 of female Division 1 NCAA athletes reported behaviors that demonstrate risk for developing anorexia nervosa.
This weekend, with your help, we were able to provide a scholarship to one girl to participate in Voice in Sport. We donated proceeds from sales on bigspoonroasters.com toward the goal of $459 to sponsor a female athlete for a year. With this Voice In Sport Membership, the female athlete will get access to:
- Weekly college or pro athlete mentorship (from pro athletes like Maddy)
- Monthly sports psychologist or sports nutritionist calls
- Exclusive content catered to female athletes (blog posts and resources)
- A community that is advocating for change (advocacy calls and meetings included)
We’re excited to support a program doing such meaningful work in the world of athletics. In the meantime, let’s see some good sportship out there!