“Fair and generous behavior or treatment of others, especially in a sports contest,” is one popular definition. One thing is true: You know it when you see it... and when you don’t. How do you define sportsmanship?
Here’s how The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) defines it:
Brian Shulman is a former top-ranked Auburn University football punter, door-to-door-salesman and entrepreneur who sold his education company to K12 Inc. He credits almost every success he has had in life to the sportsmanship lessons he learned from his former coaches and teammates on the football field.
Compelled to pay it forward and make a positive impact in the lives of today’s young athletes, he has become over the past two decades a nationally-recognized speaker and writer on the subjects of sportsmanship, steroid education, character education, and bullying prevention.
In 2007—after observing a disturbing decrease in good sportsmanship in every major sport—he authored The Death of Sportsmanship and How to Revive It. Since then, he has addressed issues of sportsmanship and steroid education before Congress, the United States Air Force Academys Center for Character Development, and other groups supporting the cause.
Through years of research and partnerships with some of the largest athletic associations in the country, including collegiate (the Southeastern Conference, Sun Belt Conference) and high school athletic associations (Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Pennsylvania), Shulman has become a leading authority on sportsmanship education. Through LTS Education Systems, he designed practical solutions that work to revitalize athletics in school systems.
"Bad behavior in sports gets too much attention. In our increasingly combative society, sports seem to be dividing us more than uniting us,” he has said. “As the games take on intimidating intensity, more and more children resort to the same bad behavior they see in collegiate or professional sports, or they opt out, retreating to activities that offer no opportunity to build individual and team skills.”
Shulman believes that good sportsmanship can be revived in young athletes, but that it must be taught, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic. In his view, coaches and parents are the ones who must learn it and teach it. Collegiate and professional athletes must also set good examples. Ultimately, he aims to share the benefits of good sportsmanship with everyone who wants to achieve their dreams.