When the laws of a game collide with the games "spirit", exactly what is more important?
Over the past week a range of spot fires have erupted in the sporting world concerning what some see as the clear disregard of "the spirit of game" by athletes in their uncompromising pursuit of victory.
Nick Kyrgios served underarm to his opponent, Dusan Lajovic, twice, winning both points. While some, such as British tennis coach Judy Murray, applauded the tactic, describing Kyrgios as a "genius", others were outraged.
Meanwhile, in India, the game of cricket was facing its own moral crisis when Indian bowler Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed English batsman Jos Buttler, running him out with the entirely legal, but rarely used, "Mankad" (a run-out of the non-striker by the bowler if the non-striker leaves his crease too early), prompting Australian legend Shane Warne to lash Ashwins actions as "disgraceful".
Said Warne on Twitter: “This win at all costs mentality has got to stop & the integrity of the game along with the spirit of the game must be of the most importance, as we need to set examples to the young boys & girls playing cricket!”
Warne was fired up. The spirit of the game and its integrity had been ignored.
Of course the sport of cricket has not been without its controversies concerning the spirit of the game, most famously Trevor Chappell's underarm ball to New Zealands Brian McKechnie.
But why do these acts grate on us so much? After all, they do not sit outside the laws of the game, only the supposedly unwritten rules that apparently govern "fair play".
The reason we define a "spirit" of the game is to ensure the "fairness" of the contest is upheld. When players go outside this spirit, they may gain an advantage, but they do so without proving their superiority in skill, strength or stamina. In the case of the “Mankad”, Ashwin did not prove he was superior in the battle between bat and ball.
Many see these actions as sneaky. These are not the characteristics we warm to in life or sport. We like our sport to be honest and up front where tactics are put in place, but are on show for everyone to see. Thats why many believe Ashwin should have given Buttler a warning that if he kept creeping out of his crease, hed attempt to run him out.
Furthermore, we barrack for the contest of skill and stamina, of strength and concentration, and when players employ tactics that deny us that, we feel cheated because the contest has been lessened. Well never know what would have happened had Chappell not bowled underarm all those years ago, or who would have eventually won the battle between bowler, Ashwin, and batter, Buttler.
But the real clincher is the fact these "win at all costs" cRead More – Source