Martin Devlin: Nothing wrong with English players' behaviour

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Fri, 8 Nov 2019, 1:02PM

Martin Devlin: Nothing wrong with English players' behaviour

Author
Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Fri, 8 Nov 2019, 1:02PM

Is it bad sportsmanship not to want your losers medal?

The answer to that is a loud and defiant "NO". This question reared its head again last weekend after a couple of the English players, Sinckler & Itoje, refused to wear theirs following the RWC final loss to South Africa.

Let's first remember that this is totally different from a  silver or bronze earned at the Olympics. You haven't lost while competing against the best of the rest of the world in an all-in to the end event.

You come second in the shot put or pole vault or 1500m or whatever and that is an extraordinary achievement. In a one-off final where there's only one winner second makes you, on the day, the only loser.

And so to the medal "ceremony". The presentation palaava is mostly about 2 things. It should be about one but it's not,  it's two. First and foremost the winners because that's why we're all there and watching. But also, sadly, it's become ever increasingly about the fish-heads fawning their benefactors.

Making the players stand around for half an hour afterwards while the backslappers all ritually bumpat each other is both excruciating and punishing enough for us spectators let alone those who've just played the most important match of their lives AND lost.

No wonder there are some amongst the throng who let their emotions get the better of them. Some of us are hard-wired to accept the situation and some of us simply aren't.

There is no right or wrong here. What the two English blokes did affected no-one else but themselves and their team-mates.

But that's not how "news" works these days. A few inconsequential people are compelled to moan about their actions on some irrelevant social media platform, that in turn becomes a screaming headline, which in turn automatically provokes another heap of anonymous trolls to offer theirs and before you can yell "what a load of BS" it's become a so-called "story".

So take it for what you will, as important as you think it should be or as meaningless as you wish to make it.

For me, there was nothing about their actions that says bad sportsmanship. It's simply being human & reacting emotionally and individually in the moment.

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