Anna Hurley read the following essay at last Friday’s 21st Annual MIAA/MSSADA Sportsmanship Summit at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. This is the 14th year of the literary contest.
“Social Media and Sportsmanship, How do they work together?”
Sandwich High School
Blue Knights, Clippers, Red Raiders, Dolphins and Dragons are opponents and rivals on fields and ice. We push each other, we compete and through Social Media we recognize each other’s accomplishments and applaud them. That is how Social Media and Sportsmanship works together. It gives Student-Athletes an arena where we can support our teammates and our opponents.
As a Student-Athlete, social media has helped promote sportsmanship among my peers and myself. In using the term, ‘peers’, I am not only referring to my classmates and teammates, but to my rivals as well, true sportsmanship reminds us other teams are our opponents and not our enemies. They are on the fields and ice for the same reason we are; they love to play the sport. Through Twitter, Snap Chat, Instagram and Facebook, athletes from opposing teams send messages to one another to cheer about victories and commiserate about losses or tough practices. The girls I will strive to beat on Wednesday are the same girls who Tweeted to me on Monday with wishes that we defeat a high ranked opponent. When our girl’s hockey team, against all odds, qualified for the state tournament, it was our true rivals that tweeted to us, ‘#RoadtoGarden’ with all kinds of balloon emojis. We not only entered this tournament with hearts full of ambition, but also knowing our success and hard work was obvious to more than our town.
Last Spring, the Cape Cod Storm, a hockey team comprised of girls from all over Cape Cod, girls that have been my teammates and girls that have been my opponents, won the National Championship in New York. Many of us could not attend the games but followed their success on Twitter and Facebook. We sent poems, chants and congratulations. To cheer on your rivals may be the truest form of sportsmanship and Social Media gives us the arena to do that.
As Sandwich’s field hockey and lacrosse goalie, I have had the privilege to compete against many athletes. Although I only want to win, I have to respect them when they beat us, even if it means they had to drill that perfect shot at me. This respect is what fuels our Tweets back and forth to one another. Our love of our sport is what unites us with our opponents. Social Media gives us a place to create a rapport past the usual ‘end of the game handshake.’
The thing with sportsmanship is that it matters on and off the field. To be a good teammate, a good role model and even a good opponent, players need to respect the talent of others, whether they are rivals or not. Through Social Media, athletes now have a way to reach out to their rivals and applaud their accomplishments. There is no greater tribute than having the player with the killer shot on the opposing team Tweet you hours after the game, ‘#crazysave#cant’tbelieveyoustoppedthat.’