Thursday, November 20, 2008

On Sportsmanship

When was the last time that this happened: A base runner in MLB being called out at first base, then arguing with the umpire, expecting that the ump would say, “You know, I believe that you’ve convinced me of the error of my ways; I’m going change my mind and call you safe.”

Why would you expect any different outcome at the Firefighter Combat Challenge? I’m amazed on those rare occasions when a competitor commits a foul and then attempts to make a federal case out of it.

Sportsmanship, the class act of winning and losing graciously is very much in evidence at the Challenge. In fact, spectators new to our sport are amazed at the professionalism as well as the respect with which opponents are treated. It is not unusual to observe the outcome of a very close relay race and be unable to tell who won as a consequence of not looking at the clock. The euphoria of a close race, the exuberance of the athletes as they congratulate each other is what I like very much about our sport.

But, we do have from time to time our hotheads. Throwing protective equipment such as a helmet is not a cool thing. Like it or not, firefighters are role models and should always accord themselves as such. Back in the 70’s I worked for the Washington Redskins when George Allen was the head coach. He was a stickler for treating helmets with respect. Throwing, kicking or sitting on helmets was a forbidden practice and would result in a fine.

We expect this same level of respect at the Challenge. We ask that you resist the temptation to display your anger by spiking the dummy. By this we mean anything other than allowing Rescue Randy to simply slide out of your grip and onto the matt. The act of lifting and slamming is prohibited and will result in a penalty, or if flagrant, disqualification. Not only does this harm a very expensive prop, but you would never do this to a victim. Think of how you look to the public when you put on such a spectacle. We know that reading this right now, you’d never think of committing such an act. If you have a beef, there’s a right way to deal with it- respectfully. But judgment calls are not subject to debate. =