Motion: Professionalism detracts from sportsmanship
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
Having been enlightened by the affirmative side on the definition of the motion, I’d like to redefine it in a broader, more up-to-date way.
“Professionalism” refers to the practice of paying players who participate in certain sports. More and more sports are becoming professional. Why? Because paid players have the time to pursue excellence, in fitness and ability to reach high levels of skill.
I’d like to remind our opponents that professionalism also includes setting up professional bodies and employing people who have expertise of the profession, people like professional trainers.
The word “sportsmanship” involves both attitude and behavior. Dear opponents, I’ll shake hands with you, whether my team wins or loses. That shows sportsmanship, right? But genuine sportsmanship goes beyond gestures of courtesy. It refers to fairness, honesty and politeness in a competition. Respect for the rules and for other players is important. If we win this debate and gloat over our victory, we show poor sportsmanship. If we lose and curse our opponents and adjudicators, we also show poor sportsmanship. If we think we are likely to lose and give up trying, that’s poor sportsmanship too. Or if we resort to dirty tricks like spying over our opponents, needless to say, poor sportsmanship again.
In defining sportsmanship, our opponent has missed one very important point. Jill Oser says, “sportsmanship is about competing and training and getting to your peak ability.” Please note the phrase “getting to your peak ability”. This is precisely what professionalism helps players achieve.
Sportsmanship is seen and admired in professional games despite some aberrations. Don’t you admire the skill and sportsmanship of Pele? Not many admire John McEnroe and enroll in His School of Sportsmanship, do they?
Professionalism strengthens rather than detracts from sportsmanship. Professional players win the game with their expertise; they need not fall back on dirty play. Also, foul play endangers their livelihood, so participants are less likely to do it and ruin their careers. Professional bodies help lay down rules and ensure that players abide by these rules. Professional trainers help sportsmen strengthen their expertise, thus enabling them to perform to the best of their ability.
Even if the affirmative side thinks that sportsmanship is not always practiced, we can tell you that there are many factors contributing to these failures, factors like nationalism, ideology and pursuit of personal glory. Professionalism is definitely NOT one of these factors.
Now let’s look at the verb phrase “detract from”. It means diminish, make less impressive. Professionalism means that sport is no longer the privilege of an elite minority who do not need to earn an income. This used to be the unfair, unsporting situation.
Professionalism enables many people to compete at a higher level in sports because they are openly and honestly paid. They do not need a private income to have the time to practice and reach a higher level. Nor do they have to resort to involvement in dishonest, unsportsmanlike sham amateurism.
The ideals of professionalism are also found in other walks of life where they also enhance sportsmanship or fair play.
Professionalism does not diminish sportsmanship. It is simple logic that great skill and high standards enhance fair play, honesty and excellence.
Who is more admirable, Michael Jordan or God? A survey conducted on 500 American kindergarten children shows their preference. Michael Jordan first, God second, if lucky. What makes them admire this professional football player? His phenomenal performance in game 5 of last year’s NBA Finals when he displayed the loftiest heights of sportsmanship. Despite suffering from diarrhea and flu, he played and played to support his teammates and thrilled the paying audience. At the end of the game he could barely stand.
Michael Jordan also said, “I am no longer so concerned about money although it is important. As a professional player, I am an integral part of the game. I cannot abandon my love for the sport.” It is crystal clear that his professionalism has by no means detracted his sportsmanship. On the contrary, he has enhanced it.
Professionalism, besides enhancing sportsmanship in an individual player, also promotes the virtues in the viewers. What makes Tiger Woods an international icon? Yes, excellence, youth and ethnicity, but hard as it may be to imagine, he is much more. In an age of commercially hyped, trash-talking, in-your-face sports star, he is someone who combines great athleticism with decency, politeness, respect, in short, sportsmanship. Wood’s pride does not extend to the braggart denigration of the competition and the naked promotion of self. He is a paragon, a gentleman athlete that has touched many people’s hearts with his graciousness. By the way, he is a professional.
Sporting behavior and professionalism does not lie only in decent attitude towards a game. So you wish to conquer the French Open my friend? And I too, what a fine thing that would be! But first mark the conditions and the consequences of being professional, and then set to work. You will have to put yourself under discipline, to eat by rule, to exercise at the appointed hour, like it or not, in cold and heat. Then in the conflict itself you are likely to dislocate your wrist or twist your ankle, or to be severely thrashed, and above all these things, to be defeated. To meet the basic requirements of being a professional, to willingly put yourself under this drudgery, believe me, this is sportsmanship all right.
Admittedly, there are bad boys and girls on the battlefield. Andre Agassi and Deion Sanders have mastered this very lucrative chest-beating glory seeking. Dennis Rodman has taken it to his conclusion with his groin-kicking, body-piercing anarchism. The bad boys, however, did not transform into monsters once they turned professional. According to John McEnroe’s coach, he was notorious as an amateur at playing tennis instituted with his favorite (clasp)… oh, I’d better not say it here. But apparently, his professionalism didn’t aggravate his behavior, he was already as bad as can be. Bad boys saw bad manners and quick tempers as the ticket to celebrity. This is beyond professionalism.
Quite on the contrary, professionalism can in fact enhance and promote sportsmanship. For example, in sports, rules and penalties are much stricter in professional competitions when compared to amateur ones to encourage fair play. May I ask if a higher level of fair play detracts from sportsmanship. Surely it enhances sportsmanship. A professional body also strictly monitors the participants, and disciplinary actions are taken on professionals who fail to reach the standards of professionalism.
Let’s look at the example of Doctor Bristol’s example of responsibility towards a professional body. Again may I ask whether maintaining the qualities and honorable conduct of a professional is detracting from or enhancing sportsmanship? Some people have earned the title of professional, through the standards, attitudes and qualities that they have in their respective fields. In other words, the status, and respect that professionals gain reflects trustworthiness, honesty, dependability, and the capability to fulfill the responsibilities and demands of some professions, which is: sportsmanship. So you see, being a professional is all about having sportsmanship. How on earth, then, can professionalism detract from sportsmanship if being sporting is what you need to be qualified as a professional!
It is undeniable that personal glory is often present in a professional athlete, but does this necessarily mean that it must take one to such an extreme point that he chooses to violate the rules of his sport? On the contrary, one would aim at a higher standard of sportsmanship in order to achieve more popularity, approval, status and even money. What personal glory has Dennis Rochman gained for his unimpressive display of sportsmanship: a notorious reputation and a drop in salary is all he’s gained! Again, look at the personal glory Tiger Woods has gained for his genuinely higher standard of sportsmanship. The pressure, attention and expectations that professionals are under means that their livelihood depends on how sporting they are. They can’t afford dirty play that’s going to affect their livelihood. The fact is that dirty play does not build up as you cross the line between amateurism and professionalism.
First of all, the key word “professionalism”. Our opponents have confined the interpretation of the word to the practice of paying players who participate in certain sports. But we can’t deny that professional bodies, professional trainers and professional knowledge are also a form of professionalism, and indeed, this form of professionalism strengthens fairness and excellence. This point has been thoroughly elaborated and reinforced by my team members.
Second, the other key word “sportsmanship”. Our opponents have two problems here. One problem is their failure to understand that getting to one’s peak ability is a form of sportsmanship. Our team has illustrated this point laboriously throughout this debate. The other problem is their failure to see that sportsmanship is well and alive in professional sports. Just to quote two recent examples. In the 1998 Semi-finals for the French open, even though the chair-en-pire said the ball was out, Carlos Moya insisted that it was in. All he wanted was a fair game. In the Finals, Alex Correja was defeated by Moya. Instead of flinging his racket in anger and disappointment, he leapt over the net to his opponent and congratulated him, saying, “I’m so glad you won even though it meant I had to lose.” Isn’t that sportsmanship demonstrated by professional players?
Third, the opposing team has quoted evidence of professional sportsmen cheating in order to win. Let mw remind you that cheating and foul play are not the monopoly of professional players. Many amateurs are found guilty of dirty play. We should not be so biased as to say that honesty and fairness are alien qualities to professional players.
To sum up, professionalism enhances rather than diminishes sportsmanship. Professional sportsmen, with the pay they receive, can afford the time to concentrate on sports as a career, and thus they can perform to the best of their ability. They are less likely to break the rules because of heavy penalties and repercussions on their careers. They are more likely to behave sportingly to live up to the title of professional, and they would also aim at a higher standard of sportsmanship in order to gain more popularity, approval, status and money. Professional bodies lay down rules to promote sportsmanship, and ensure that fairness is done to all sportsmen. Professional trainers help sportsmen strive towards even higher standards in sports, even breaking records. We have also given evidence that professional sportsmen do practice sportsmanship, and if sportsmanship is declining, it is due to other factors. Professionalism is certainly NOT a factor.
Dear opponents, open your eyes and look around – Aren’t the trainers of our teams professional teachers? Aren’t the adjudicators professionals in the field of English language training? We have no doublt about our professional teachers helping us to perform to the best of our ability. We have no doubt about our adjudicators ensuring fairness in this debate. Their standards are those of professionals. We also have no doubt about us debaters behaving with generosity and courtesy, whether we win or not. Here is an example of professionalism enhancing sportsmanship, brought to you live.