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Social Media – And Sportsmanship

We are in that time of the year where both NBA and NHL teams are winning…or going home in the playoffs. I am a big Denver Nuggets fan, and that team generated a lot of excitement after trading Carmelo Anthony because they were winning as a team versus relying on a superstar. The season came to an end when they ran into an excellent Oklahoma City Thunder team with two superstars and a fantastic shot blocker. However, I already have hope for this team-minded Nuggets team going into next season.

What we see at the end of these elimination games is what I want to focus on today: Sportsmanship. You can watch teams be the most bitter of rivals during a playoff series with plenty of posturing and occasional bad sportsmanship.  You can then watch them shake hands (and do manly guy hugs with obligatory pounding of the back) with sincere congratulations after the final buzzer at the end of the series.

Let’s consider two sportsmanship quotes from a couple excellent sports role models: Warren Moon (football) and Jim Courier (tennis).

Sportsmanship is “making sure you have respect for the guy you’re playing across from.”
– Warren Moon

“Sportsmanship for me is when a guy walks off the court and you really can’t tell whether he won or lost, when he carries himself with pride either way.”
– Jim Courier

How could we apply these sportsmanship ideas to our social media presence?

  1. Beg to Differ without Attacking. We all come in different shapes, sizes…and opinions!  And some of us like sharing those opinions more passionately than others. The key is to express opposing viewpoints with social grace. Respect the original poster and subsequent comments, acknowledge the merit in their viewpoints, and then offer your contrarian input.  Support your objective position with facts or express your subjective opinion and recognize it as subjective.  Above all else, do not attack other viewpoints. If you become abusive enough, you might find yourself on a lonely island as people block your comments stop following you/etc.
  2. Agree to Disagree…with Courtesy. You may go through a series of comments or tweets with strong viewpoints on both sides of the debate.  At the end of the day, you may still have to “agree to disagree”. I love sports, and I enjoy the power of social media. Therefore, I will browse reader comments on sports news articles to get Joe Q Public’s viewpoint. I am astounded at comments that quickly degrade to profanity or attacks on the intelligence of everyone else.  It’s great to have your convictions, but have the courtesy and self-control to know when to stop…even if you are on the losing side of the debate!  As Abraham Lincoln pointed out: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
What is the best example of restraint you’ve seen (or exhibited personally)?  What is the worst example?  Let ‘er fly in the comments section…while putting the PG-filter on it, of course.
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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and grandsons! My career has blessed me to the point I was able to start a new consultancy in 2018: Analytic Integrity. I look to provide analytic experience, and business integrity, to an Analytics world while helping data-driven organizations mature. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin.

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  1. Appreciate this topic and the reminder for appropriate communication. I hope more people will enjoy sharing opinions not having to be “right” or “best”, but enjoy sharing ideas and perspectives. We work hard to teach our young people right vs. wrong, but not always encourage the healthy difference of opinion. I think it is a valuable skill in so many areas of life.

    • You know I’m a big fan of how constructive conflict can lead to faster and better resolution.

  2. These are very important attitudes to carry over from sportsmanship into social media. Too many people focus on total numbers and total replies and not enough on the conversations themselves, sometimes.

    Additionally, its important to agree to disagree in a social media realm as well. Too many people think that their ideas are the only ones that count. In the social ecosystem, the abundance of ideas is what makes the platform great.

    • Thanks, Albert. we were thinking some of the same issues with our recent posts. I enjoyed your recent blog comparing Twitter behavior and life lessons learned in kindergarten.

  3. What did you think of LeBron James’ response from reporters after losing the championship to the Dallas Mavericks as to how Cleveland fans were responding to the Miami Heat’s loss (or as Cleveland feels, LeBron’s personal loss)? I personally thought it pretty good…to paraphrase: Everyone has problems and if for a short time they can forget their problems and shift their focus on this situation then it’s fine. But tomorrow we all wake up and we still have our own problems.

    Can you imagine in a million years a client spewing out as much rath via every outlet possible as Lebron has taken for choosing to go to Miami? And how would you combat that?

    • Per a comment I made on another blog today (written by my buddy @albertqian), we would not blink an eye if 3-superstar technologists/entrepreneurs decided to get together to create a super-company. They would realize that their combined talents might ensure and enhance the level of their success. Yet we hold athletes to a separate standard. In business world = good business…in sports = stacking the deck against the rest of the league. Of course, some of it comes down to attitude. The Miami big-3 wanted to talk about winning countless championships…let the coronation begin. I’m with some of the beat writers, LeBron can go a long way towards repairing his image if he injects some humility into his demeanor. He could help the game by acknowledging the benefits of teamwork, and how he personally will work on teamwork going into the next season.

      If a client spews wrath, you gotta take it, and then come back with courtesy and acknowledge your client’s issues without feeling the need for debate. Recognize that your goals are bigger than your pride.


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