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July 28th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

Letters to the President #1286: 'Fair Play'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is running for re-election. I’m running to send my latest letter to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Dear Mr. President,

One of the hallmarks of athletic competition ought to be sportsmanship and manners. At least that is way I see it. Judging from some of the behavior I see in professional and amateurs sports these days, I’m not sure we are all in agreement on that point, but for the moment I’ll let it stand.

Accordingly, I’d like to offer a few simple guidelines to proper behavior during the Olympics.

1) Cheering for your team is great. Being a jerk about it is not. Raise your side up, don’t put the other side down.

2) Be gracious in victory and defeat. Actually, I think the latter part of that equation is the more important part. Plenty of us can sympathize with a losing team being frustrated at the end of a tough battle. But no matter how brutal the contest, winners have an obligation to congratulate their opponents, praise their efforts, and act like decent folks.

3) No matter how hapless an opponent may be (and in the Olympics, there can be some hopelessly lopsided contests) the dominant team should make every effort to avoid humiliating the losers. Piling up points, engaging in ostentatious displays of celebration, or taunting others does not make you bigger…it makes us all smaller.

4) Don’t complain about the refs. There are good refs and bad ones. Complaining about them won’t make any difference, and it makes you look like a bad sport.

5) Remember that the team is more important than the individual.

I’m sure some more will come to me as time goes on, and I would love to have your input, so if you have any ideas give me a call. I should be around all weekend…watching the games, of course!

Regards,
Tom

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