Sportsmanship (or sometimes sportspersonship) is an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one's competitors. A sore loser refers to one who does not take defeat well, whereas a good sport means being a "good winner" as well as being a "good loser".
Sportsmanship can be conceptualized as an enduring and relatively stable characteristic or disposition such that individuals differ in the way they are generally expected to behave in sport situations. In general, sportsmanship refers to virtues such as fairness, self-control, courage, and persistence, and has been associated with interpersonal concepts of treating others and being treated fairly, maintaining self-control if dealing with others, and respect for both authority and opponents. Sportsmanship is also looked at as being the way one reacts to a sport/game.
A competitor who exhibits poor sportsmanship after losing a game or contest is often called a "sore loser" (those who show poor sportsmanship after winning are typically called "bad winners"). Sore loser behavior includes blaming others for the loss, not accepting responsibility for personal actions that contributed to the defeat, reacting to the loss in an immature or improper fashion, making excuses for the defeat, and citing unfavorable conditions or other petty issues as reasons for the defeat. A bad winner acts in a shallow fashion after his or her victory, such as by gloating about his or her win, rubbing the win in the face(s) of the opponent(s), and lowering the opponent(s)'s self-esteem by constantly reminding the opponent(s) of "poor" performance in comparison (even if the opponent(s) competed well).
- Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, trophy given by the National Hockey League to the player who shows the best sportsmanship
- Pierre de Coubertin medal, a special medal handed out during the modern Olympic Games for extraordinary acts of sportsmanship in keeping with the ideals of the Games.
- Unsportsmanlike conduct
- See, e.g., Joel Fish and Susan Magee, 101 Ways to Be a Terrific Sports Parent, p. 168. Fireside, 2003.
- David Lacey, "It takes a bad loser to become a good winner." The Guardian, November 10, 2007.
- Shields & Bredemeier, 1995.
- "MJD", If he's going to lose, Bill Belichick would rather be elsewhere. Yahoo Sports, February 3, 2008.
- E-releases, Super Winners and Losers ("The Patriots’ coach was eviscerated by sports pundits for leaving the field before the game was actually finished").