Sportsmanship is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly otherwise it atrophies and becomes vestigial.
Ironically enough, some athletes with plenty of muscle to spare demonstrate the least amount of sportsmanship. Perhaps they spend too much time in the weight room pumping iron and neglect to train their character in the community and work place.
The philosophy of Canada’s True Sport movement (of which Physique Canada is a signatory) is that sport has the ability to build good citizens by developing positive character traits. Ben Weider once wrote, “Body building is good for nation building”. Ben recognized that healthy sport competition has positive benefits to the community, and he desperately wanted that to include bodybuilding. Unfortunately, his was more a dream and hope than a reality. Honestly, ask yourself of all the great sport role models out there, how many are bodybuilders? How many Sidney Crosbys or Wayne Gretskys are out there on our bodybuilding stages? Gentlemen athletes who embody the 7 principles of True Sport are generally not associated with our sport. Quite the contrary, we have to battle the stigma of oafish louts who bully people at the beach, the nightclub and at the gym. Add to this the specter of drug use (and drug selling), well, who can blame the average parent for prohibiting their kids getting involved in bodybuilding? Does dad want his son to turn into a bully-man or to turn into a gentleman?
Recently I witnessed on social media behaviour that saddened me deeply. Bodybuilders with profound musculature and stage poise displaying shallow character and egregious judgment. While reading the public messages, I was shocked at the venom and emotions lacing the screeds. Such anger, such hurt. All over a placing or two. No sponsor endorsements lost, no national TV contracts at stake. Just a wee trophy and bragging rights. My initial impression was of a toddler having a tantrum/meltdown: lashing out around him at everyone, crying and kicking up a storm. Certainly my impression wasn’t one of a thoughtful sportsman who was in control of his emotions. I ask these people: would you write those kinds of notes (in that scathing disrespectful tone) to your aunt? To your boss at work? To your athletes that you coach? Of course not, that would be immature and hurtful. So why is it acceptable to behave that way to volunteers/officials at a bodybuilding contest?