Is Good Sportsmanship Eroding in America?

Lombardi's Way Is Good Sportsmanship Eroding in America?

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So this morning I had a brief conversation with my son Tyler.

Me: Have you seen all the hoopla over Jeremy Guthrie’s t-shirt?

Ty: Yes, I’m not bothered by it as much as you.

Obviously he had seen my Tweets on the topic.

Now Tyler I’m proud to say is a pretty balanced guy. He’s respectful and fortunately for a young man of his age he takes the time to respond, unlike his father who at the age of 22 all too often reacted.

There’s a difference.

But his words this morning hung in the air for a few moments.

How could he not see the toxicity in Guthrie’s choice of t-shirts?

Here’s a guy who before he became an Oriole had 37 Major League innings to his credit and started just 1 MLB game. The Orioles employed him for 5 seasons and paid him a total of $10,550,000 for his 48-65 record to go with a 4.11 ERA.

He claims to have fond memories of “Charm City” and his former teammates yet when they are down 0-3 in a series – one during which the Royals have completely outplayed the Orioles, he chooses to rub salt in the wound by wearing that t-shirt.

And Tyler saw nothing wrong with it.

Maybe it’s a generational thing.

This morning on The Dan Patrick Show, one of Dan’s sidekicks, probably in his 20’s, had this to say about Guthrie’s t-shirt:

“He can’t jam another team that he’s trying to beat. He’s trying to kill ‘em. And he can’t wear a t-shirt and he has to apologize the next day on some dopey social media.”

Where has sportsmanship gone? What happened to winning with class?

When Ty was growing up we sometimes played Madden together and I noticed that with each update of the game the players’ trash talking and showboating body language grew progressively more demonstrative.

Might that be at least part of the reason why Ty and his peers don’t see anything wrong with Guthrie’s dig at his former employer? Has trash talking become an acceptable form of sportsmanship?

I have a friend who has this saying, “Tradition Doesn’t Graduate.”

Tradition has value and it reminds us of what makes our country great.

In a similar sense “Good Sportsmanship” doesn’t graduate either. It upholds the value of the game and keeps the competition pure.

I engaged in a few debates on social media since Guthrie donned his Chris Brown influenced apparel disparaging the Orioles. A lot of the debate focused on Terrell Suggs’ t-shirt aimed at the Steelers and Steve Smith, Sr.’s remarks about the Carolina Panthers.

Even members of the media chimed in saying that Guthrie is a good guy, that he was just having fun and why is his behavior any different than Suggs’ or Smith’s?

In the case of Smith, he was sent packing by the team in dramatic fashion and those wounds haven’t healed. With Suggs, he’s taking a swipe at a team and a fan base with which he has no connectivity.

Suggs is the class clown. We all know it so we in Baltimore laugh at the shirt because he’s directing his angst towards the city’s most disdained team – the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Smith is the new toy in town. We love his passion and gritty determination to prove he has much left in the tank. So we understand his angst and accept it.

Guthrie on the surface seems like a good guy but there have been whispers behind the scenes that he carries that “Stanford arrogance”. Maybe he made an honest mistake last night but I think the guy is smarter than that. He knew what he was doing and now he’s bailing like a __________ (fill in descriptive term) as evidenced by his rather insincere apologetic Tweet.

At the end of the day whatever side you take on this argument, one thing we all should agree on. You can’t justify bad behavior with the bad behavior of others.

Well at least some of us thought Guthrie’s behavior was bad.

Assuming of course you are part of a generation that believes that good sportsmanship still means something.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts "The Fanimal" also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi


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