A take by Joseph Epstein:
Sportsmanship matters because without it sports are an empty proposition—a matter of who is faster, stronger or more brutal than whom. Sportsmanship implies respect—for the game, for your opponent, for yourself. A great part of the justification for sports is as a forcing-house for building character. Accepting defeat with grace is one of sportsmanship’s character-building components; winning without braggadocio is an-other. A strong sense of fairness is yet a third compo-nent and discipline and perse-verance a fourth and fifth. Without sportsmanship, sports are little more than grown men playing children’s games.