At the beginning or end of just about every sporting event at every level, players on the opposing teams shake hands and congratulate each other on a well-played game. Even after competing against each other, athletes respect the effort that their opponents put in.
This is called sportsmanship. It is one of the driving forces behind the greatness of sports and it is important to keep in mind every time you compete. Even in professional sports, sportsmanship is an important part of the game.
Tennis: In pro tennis, players spend hours and hours competing against each other. They may get frustrated when they hit a poor shot or upset when their opponent hits a good shot, but at the end of the match all of those emotions are put aside. As soon as the final point is scored, the players greet each other at the net and shake hands. It is one of the most recognized forms of sportsmanship in the world.
Football: On the field, football is an intense sport. There is a lot of contact, especially with players tackling each other. But at the end of the game, fans see players and coaches from both teams mingling on the field, talking about the game and wishing each other well. The fact that players can participate in such an intense sport and still remain friendly after the game is a true testament of sportsmanship.
Basketball: At the beginning of each game, players on both teams meet at center court just before tip-off. They shake hands and wish each other good luck in the game. Even though players will be working hard against each other during the game, they hope the other team plays well and this provides good competition.
Soccer: Around the world, fans and players are extremely passionate about soccer. Games can get intense. But after the game, the true spirit of sportsmanship comes out. Players will exchange jerseys with their opponents, a tradition that lets everybody know that any bad feelings during the game are left on the field.
Hockey: Like football, hockey is an intense contact sport. During the game, there can be a lot of physical contact. One of the great traditions in hockey, though, is the playoff handshake line. At the end of each playoff series, the two teams line up and shake hands. This shows that they enjoyed the competition and appreciate that the other team played hard and played well.
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