Sportsmanship deteriorates as athletes age

Unsportsmanlike conduct can take a turn for the worse in club sports as athletes age. The levels of competition and pressure to win coerce them into worse sportsmanship.


Defending a run…Doing his best to stop a promising attack, soccer player Josh Benavides defends fellow player Andres Shinn. The two faced off in a friendly scrimmage during the summer.

The increase in competition and pressure to win as athletes age decreases their consideration for sportsmanship, causing club sports to often be a source of bad sportsmanship, especially as the age of a team increases.
Many club sports preach that sportsmanship is important. However, many club sports teams have issues with sportsmanship, or the lack thereof.
According to Souderton Impact center back, Ryan Decker, the sportsmanship decreases as age increases. “I guess games have got a lot dirtier. [There is] more contact and way more trash-talking,” Decker said.
Water Polo Junior Olympics member Blake Stanczewski has a similar perspective. Stanczewski said that bad sportsmanship at the club level can also lead to trouble for school sports since many club players will also see each other in school games.
Stanczewski said that, if coaches realize that someone is a bad sport, they will “think lesser of you.” According to Stanczewski, some of the unsportsmanlike conduct in water polo can be fairly extreme, including grabbing players and pushing or pulling them underwater.
Other sports see similar problems. SHYBA basketball player Michael Lengel also has experienced bad sportsmanship in his league. “There was an incident where a referee got into a fight with one of the players and he threw them out,” Lengel said.
Lengel also believes that sportsmanship has decreased since he originally started playing basketball. “When you’re young, all you want to do is just play basketball and have fun,” Lengel said. “But as you get older, even in the NBA you can see how much more competitive it gets because there’s just such a wide variety of talent.”
Indian Valley Futbol Club Coach Edgardo Castañeda agrees that sportsmanship can be a problem in club sports. “As kids get older, they get more competitive, that’s when you start seeing a lot of trash-talking,” Castañeda said. “That makes some parents and players upset.”
According to Castañeda, when he sees bad sportsmanship, either by his players or against his players, he starts by talking to his player and trying “to calm things down.”
“I try to tell the kids to ignore, not pay attention, try to maybe switch positions to avoid that,” Castañeda said.
Castañeda said that sportsmanship must also be regulated by the coaches of the team. He also believes the importance of not running up the scores of games as well.
“You have to be respectful to the other teams,” Castañeda said.
According to Castañeda, there should be a mandated, online lesson for coaches that addresses sportsmanship.
“It’s always easier to stop something early than waiting for something to keep growing,” Castañeda said.