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(Informative essay – LUMS)

The Spirit Of The Game And The Spirit Within

Many people believe that sports build character. If this was true, every sportsman would be tough, strong and a winner in every respect. This, however, is not the case. The world of sports today still sees the toughest break down and the underdogs win. This is because a person’s character has already been developed; sports only help bring it out. Sports do not help develop an athlete’s character, but rather, help bring out the innate characteristics of a person.

One way sports help reveal a person’s character is by how a certain sportsman will react to a loss. A sullen loser shows how he is incapable of handling defeat and any setbacks both on and off the field. On the other hand, a sportsman who accepts defeat gracefully proves the magnanimity of his character through his game, thus showing his capability to react to any failures in life. An example of a morose player who was unable to accept loss was seen in a football game between the clubs Manchester United and Benfica FC. A victory by Benfica knocked Manchester United out of the competition, resulting in then Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo to make an obscene hand gesture to the winning team’s fans. Consequently, this led to fans worldwide casting aspersions on Ronaldo’s character, the true side of which was revealed due to one game which was lost.

Another way sports reveal a person’s character is by way of victory. Victory can reveal whether a person can be humble and thankful achieving what they want to, or whether they will be vain and arrogant about it. Current world number one in tennis, Roger Federer, has broken and created numerous records on his way to stardom. Yet, he always acknowledges his opponent, is thankful for his victories and accordingly portrays the perfect example of humility.

In addition to wins and losses, a game itself is a true test of how a person will conduct themselves in a pressurized situation. It is a trial for one’s nerves, and how a sportsman conducts himself when under pressure in a game can reveal how they will react to real life stressful situations. A lot of matches lead to altercations amongst opposing team members in the ‘heat’ of the moment, since the will from both sides is equally big. However, the one who acts like the bigger person and steps away from the arguments, letting their game do the talking, shows the dignity of their character. In a women’s college soccer game between New Mexico and BYU, New Mexico player Elizabeth Lambert pulled a BYU player by her ponytail to the ground. She was suspended for the game, and later suspended by the University of New Mexico. Even though Lambert stated that her acts can in no way be representative of her character in general, a common notion that develops is that she lacked the self-control required for a high profile game (Barnes). Not just Lambert, but a number of pro athletes lose their cool in high profile games, leading to brawls on the field, and thus giving an insight of what the person is like off the field too.

Sports are a test of patience and of overcoming challenges, and hence show a person’s tolerance levels. A five day test cricket match can provide a proper judgment of a cricketer’s character, as it helps reveal his endurance and perseverance. The famous Williams sisters in tennis, Serena and Venus Williams, have proven to the world how sports can reveal a person’s character. Born in a poverty stricken family, their road to fame has been an enthusiastic father to coach the two to become leading tennis stars today. Accordingly, how they overcame numerous hurdles to reach the pinnacle of success today highlights the toughness of their character and their will to succeed (Bresnahan and Turner).

While sports may help reveal the positives of a person’s character, they also let slip the negative aspects. Drug abuse in sports has been a long standing issue, and athletes who resort to the use of drugs to help enhance their performance show the extent to which they can go for a win. NBA basketball player Ron Artest, during his time as a player of the Chicago Bulls, confessed to alcohol abuse at halftime of games because his team used to lose so often (Clark). This example proves that sports reveal character, because a player may be willing to resort to all means to avoid losing, however erroneous they may be.

The 2006 FIFA World Cup football final saw French player Zinedine Zidane headbutt opposing Italian player Marco Materazzi on the grounds that Materazzi had insulted his mother and sister. This incident shows how even the greatest sportsmen of all time can lose their cool if provoked, and further supports the claim that sports reveal character.

It has always been said that participating in sports is one of the most effective ways of developing our character. To learn — in the spirit of healthy competition — the art of teamwork, of co-operation, of accepting defeat gracefully and displaying humility within victory, is what was taken to be the meaning of sports. Nevertheless, sports are not about this, but rather about bringing forth a person’s character. The spirit is already present within a sportsman, the game helps display it.


Works Cited

Barnes, Simon. “Mystery of a champion in the making”. Times Online. Times

Newspapers Ltd., 2010Web. 22 Feb. 2010.



Bresnahan, Mike and Turner, Broderick. “More controversy for Ron Artest.” Los

Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 03 Dec. 2009. Web. 22 Feb. 2010.


Clark. Play Like A Champion Today. Play Like A Champion Today Educational

Series, 2009. Web. 22 Feb. 2009. <http://www.playlikeachampion.org/blog/2009/11/elizabeth-