Howdy Friends!  Enjoy, “Grandpop and Sportsmanship.”

“Hey good to see ya, young fella,” Grandpop stopped brushing ol’ Blue, and waved me into the barn. I was surprised to find him in the barn. Usually on Sunday afternoons he’d take in a football game or two relaxing in his recliner drinking coffee and helping the coaches by talking to the TV screen. I’d long ago lost any serious interest in the NFL, but had to admit watching with Grandpop was still a treat I looked forward to every now and then. Thinking about it, those Sunday game gatherings had begun to dwindle in the past few years.

“No game on today?” I paused to give ol’ Blue a friendly scratching on his shoulder.

Grandpop moved to Blue’s tail and brushed the full length with slow, deliberate strokes. “None that interest me. I reckon things change and it’s hard for an old fella to keep up.”

“How’s that?”

“It just doesn’t seem to be the same sport anymore. Of course they say your memory lets you remember things the way you want to, and polish those memories up a bit, but it feels like the game lost some of its dignity.” Grandpop paused to examine Blue’s shinny tail. “”It feels hollow now, just about winning … at any cost.”

I felt him study my face, well yea I thought, winning is why they practice, and show up. He must have heard my thoughts. He’s good at that, because he answered me.

“Oh yea, a team’s got to win, but where’d the sportsmanship go? All you hear about now is concussions, players switching teams for more money, and this thing a little while back about coaches paying players to take out the other team’s players. That’s not sportsmanship. It’s not fun to listen to, and I think it’s a foolish example for our young’ins.”

“Don’t you think it’s more about the news folks just wanting to hype stories?”

“They couldn’t hype ’em if it wasn’t going on. What I worry about is the steady drift to winning at all cost is so acceptable. I remember the first time I thought uh-oh, back a good while when an NFL coach told a reporter on the sideline after a game he does not go shake hands with the opposing coach, he wants to beat him, not be his friend. That’s not sportsmanship, I thought way back then already.”

“I think I remember that.” I said.

“It’s a busier, faster world now than we could have ever imagined and it’s easy to focus on the outcome more than the journey. I worry that the young’ins might miss learning that. True sportsman has a way of teaching respect, honor and dignity. Sometimes it’s good to loose, builds character. Today I think it’s hard for youngsters to find good role models.”

Grandpop led Blue out to his paddock and stood, leaning on him soaking up the warm sun. “We used to say ‘never let the end justify the means.’ Now even our government leaders seem to have turned that on its head and the teachings and beliefs seem to be, win at any cost, and the means don’t matter. A body can lie, break the rules, even cheat, if they win, well then by golly it’s just dandy. I’m not foolish enough to think there wasn’t always some of that, but it wasn’t seen as a good thing. Used to be if a fella got caught lying or cheating it ruined him, today it’s excused, almost celebrated as courage, because you’ve got to win … Today it seems popular to insist the end justifies the means. I don’t think that’s good sportsmanship, I think it’s backwards. And I don’t think it’s good for our young ‘ins to grow up thinking it’s okay. But I’m just an ol’ cowboy.”

He slid the halter off ol’ Blue and we moseyed to the porch for some more talk and a pot of hot black coffee. We never did watch a game that day.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch.

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