Sportsmanship Defined

Sportsmanship Defined


Mitchell McKee, a 15-year old freshmen discovered that his dad had terminal cancer and that he would undoubtedly die from this dreaded disease sooner rather than later. In an effort to take the pain away, even for a moment, Mitchell set a goal to win the state championship in wrestling as a sophomore. Fast forward 9 months and Mitchell found himself in the finals of the 120 lb. division of the Minnesota State Wrestling Championships. His opponent in the finals was Malik Stewart.

The match didn’t last long. In less than a minute, Mitchell pinned Malik to win the title. After shaking hands with Mitchell, Malik ran straight to his opponent’s father. Malik shook his hand, embraced him and told him to “stay strong” and “everybody loves you.” Noting the positive example of sportsmanship, the crowd erupted in applause. Of that moment, Malik said, “I just did it straight from the heart.” Mitchell watched the entire exchange in awe and later reflected, “It was a really big match and for him to go over and hug my dad like that and not storm off all mad like a lot of kids do – pretty cool.”

Joe’s Perspective: I have been writing this blog for 3+years, writing close to 200 posts. For me, this is the most inspirational story I have encountered. Despite the sadness of the loss, Malik reminded us that humanity and kindness is more important than sport and competition. This story gives me faith in humanity and the next generation. So when people start the song and dance about “kids today,” I will refer them to this story.  And, I agree with Malik when he says, “I thought it was the right thing to do.” Yes, it was and I think you inspired others to follow in your footsteps.

Your Turn: Are you also inspired by this story and do you think you would be able to show the same class in defeat?


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  1. Yes because I wouldn’t want someone to feel like I am mad for loosing because it’s just a match and you can always have another chance at it.

    1. I am inspired by this story and I think I could show this kind of respect in the same defeat but it would require a lot of respect and just go walk over on the other side of the wrestling mat and just give his dad a hug because he has been going through cancer. I think that was an amazing decision by him and it showed that he has great attitude and shows a lot of respect to others.

  2. Sportsmanship is one thing the helps define an athlete. There will always be someone stronger and faster than you out there and having the right attitude is a big thing. We should all encourage others no matter if we won or lost.

  3. I am extremely inspired by this story because it shows how down to earth and determined youth are nowadays. Although, Malik lost, he exercised his true potential by hugging his opponents father after a huge loss. I would be able to show the same class after a defeat because it is just a game, and they both will have plenty more in the future, even if it is not a state match. It is about who has the best character, and they both do in this instance.

  4. Yes I’m inspired by this story because it shows what sportsmanship should be. If I had known what my opponent and his family were going through I would’ve done the same thing.

  5. I have never heard something so sad but also so inspiring at the same time. Malik is a good example of the world today inspiring more and more generations to be strong characters and lead by example. I believe that i would have been able to do the same thing because I went through what both of them it seems went through with a really close family member and know the hardship of loosing someone.

  6. Losing is not the ideal situation anyone wants to be in, but we all cant be first. As an athlete myself I struggle with the idea of defeat and often my attitude reflects upon the negative outcomes. This story reminds me, as I am sure it reminds others that winning isn’t everything. After reading this article I find it more acceptable to accept defeat in a positive manner.

  7. Yes, I am inspired by this story and I would be able to show the same class in defeat because at the end of the day we are both wrestlers trying to win and he is going through rough times more then me.

  8. This story really does inspire me because that even though he lost he still had enough decency, enough class to go over to the wining opponents dad shake his hand and give him a hug. It’s always amazing to see someone go out of there way to show respect for there opponent. I honestly do believe that I can show the same class in defeat because to me I believe when you are defeated you have something to learn and something to improve on. So not only does it make you a better person but a better competitor.

  9. I am inspired by this story because good sportsmenship leads to a good athlete and treatying other how you want to be treated . sportsmanship also looks at the way one reacts to a sport/game/player . so not only it make you a better person it makes you a better competitor ??

  10. I am inspired by this story because good sportsmenship leads to a good athlete and treatying other how you want to be treated . sportsmanship also looks at the way one reacts to a sport/game/player . so not only it make you a better person it makes you a better competitor …

  11. This was an extremely inspirational story. I would most definitely do the same because that’s what sportsmanship is! The game is fun and of course important to some extent but there is other things more important and this is one of those things.

  12. I am inspired by this story, it showed great sportsmanship and it shows that ever when you lose you should still hold your head high, you have done well.

  13. This is very inspirational! It was so nice of Malik to be a good sport after he lost and say all of those kind things to McKee’s dad.

  14. I am inspired by this story because it tells you how there’s people out there in the world who care for you and want to be supportive in what you are going through. I am inspired that someone who lost a championship was able to have a positive attitude and go up to a struggling adult and let them know that they are loved and to stay strong. I would be able to show that even when you loose you should still be grateful to those around you!

  15. This was inspirational because he told himself his goal and he went out to chase it. Even though he did lose the match his dad was there supporting him. He was also playing the sport for his dad.

  16. I am inspired because it shows how much a person can do to reach their goal even if it ends in a bad way. Even though he lost he still made his dad proud of him for what he did. I think I would be able to show the same class of defeat if I had a goal at the end of it or if I was doing it for myself or someone else.

  17. I think this is pretty cool that even though he was defeated he walked over and hugged his opponents dad he was being a good person in the end and showing a great example. Also it’s inspiring that even though he was going through a rough time he won the state championship wrestling.

  18. This story is probably one the most inspiring one I’ve ever heard. Malik showed great sportsmanship and honestly it takes a lot to walk over and hug your opponent’s father. I think I would definitely show the same class, mostly out of respect for the opponent to try and do something for his father like this, even if it may be extremely hard being humble is always the right thing to do.

  19. The amount of admiration that the opponent showed was the true definition of sportsmanship, Its crazy to think that one little thing, acts of kindness from the heart can change people lives and situations forever.

  20. I am inspired by this because to compete in anything, you must put in some work. If you’re beaten, that just means that your opponent was working harder than you. And if you are outworked, then that is something your opponent should be proud of and congratulated on.

  21. I think that that is very inspiring because to be able to go out there do your best and lose and still be happy with what you did and be bigger than yourself, and just go out, congratulate the guy you just lost to and tell his father how good his son did.

  22. Yes, I like to think that I can be humble in defeat and accept the outcome no matter which way it goes. This story is very inspiring and Malik showed traits that few other kids his age have

  23. I am inspired by this story and I think I would be able to, but I first would need to have a lot of respect for everyone. If my opponent was rude and mean and didn’t respect me I wouldn’t respect him or his dad because he most likely got his disrespect from his dad. I would like to follow his path and respect anyone lose or win.

  24. yes, because you just need to show respect to someone and then you would get it back. i wouldn’t want someone to be mad at me because i lost. you could always have a 2nd chance and do better that next time.

  25. I am inspired by this story. It was really cool what he did. I wouldn’t be able to hug the parent and fans of the other team, but I would be able to respect the other team and give them a round of applause.

  26. You have to be classy and show respect, even when you lose. To many people take loss as a negative thing, when in truth its the mistakes and the losses that you learn the most from. People should never be satisfied with losing but if and when you lose you need to show respect to the other competitor(s) and to everyone around you.

  27. I feel that I do things like this, maybe not on this level but in my own way. After every game no matter the sport, wrestling or rugby. I always respect the apposing team and players. I go over and shake their hand or hands in some cases and have a laugh with them. I tell them how well they did and talk sports with them. In most cases I share some of my knowledge with them and in return they share some with me. Along with talking about that match or game we also share stories of previous matches too. We help each other grow as players and individuals.

  28. What he did is really special and inspiring, because I don’t know if I would be able to do it. You’ve worked so hard at something and got so far. Then to lose I would be so overwhelmed with emotion I don’t know if I could say I would’ve had the courage and class to do that.

  29. Yes, I belive I could show this much class in defeat because I would realize it was more then just a match to Mitchell, and that this fight wouldn’t be my last.

  30. I think that this story is very inspirational and sets a good example for people in not just sports, but any sort of competitive industry. I like to think that if I were to lose out on something to somebody else that I would be gracious about it, but I’ve never really been in the position of losing anything important so I wouldn’t know. However, I’ll definitely try to keep this in mind for when that time does come so that I can lose with dignity.

  31. Yes, it is very inspiring shows great sportsmanship. I believe I could do that, because I would want to show that I have respect for others and myself.

  32. This was very inspirational, I would be able to show a level of respect, like how Malik did after he lost such a big title. I would be able to do this because if you think of how you’d want your opponent to react if you had won, that’s what you should do if they win to show respect towards them.

  33. This is inspirational to me because i believe no matter what, after to competition is complete you should always respect the loser or winner

  34. Yes I am because it takes a lot to lose something that big and first of all not be mad, and go over and congratulate and hug his father. I could probably if I really tried. Most peoples first instinct is to get upset that they lost something but if your mind is in the right place than it’s possible

  35. I am inspired by this story, and I do believe I would go over to man I just lost to and shake his hand; But I don’t know if I would have the courage to go over to the dying father.

  36. If someone beat me in a competition, I would respect them. It would also inspire me work harder, but until then i would show the same amount of sportsmanship. They deserved it

  37. Yes, I am inspired by this individual’s self respect and I do believe that I can show the same class in defeat. I already have showed the same class, not to the extend of parents, but to the athlete I was competing with. After a swimming race, whether I won or lost, I was always giving the two swimmers on either side of my lane a high five and a “good race” before getting out of the pool.

  38. Yes because it sets a good example to others and shows so much respect. I would be able to show this because we should all be there for each other and help everyone.

  39. Yes I am inspired by this story and I think I would be able to show class in a situation like this because I would realize this is once in a lifetime for his ill father and would see the bigger picture and be happy for him.

  40. it was an amazing story and that kid was very classy and respects everyone cause he could have stormed off the mat crying but he didnt cause he went through the same thing as the other kid and had respect for him and his dad

  41. Yes this was inspiring. Through defeat i think I would do the same thing because like Malik I have lost someone to cancer and I know how it feels to go through something like that.

  42. I am inspired by this story because he could have just stormed off the mat and been mad that he lost. It is cool that he showed respect to the winner and his father. I can show this same class in defeat by looking at the bigger picture and not just viewing it as a loss.

  43. I am definitely inspired by that. With every event I have ever competed in whether it was track or swimming, I always congratulate my opponents. It really shows someones character by doing that.

  44. Yes I would do same same thing as he did I thought that was great sport man ship i believe i could that because i wouldn’t want to show disrespect to other who are sick

  45. Yes, I am inspired by this story because this is a kid who is losing his dad and is working hard to make him happy by winning the state championship. I dont think that I would have had the same class in defeat because I would have just lost the state championship.

  46. This is very inspiring, and shows great character from the boy that lost. It also shows that this boy has a lot of self respect, because after he lost he was able to put aside his frustration, and go talk to the boy who won, and his father. I think that I could do the same, but that doesn’t make me admire the boy who lost any less.

  47. Yes because when I went to state for bowling we came in 2nd during my sophomore year and 3rd during my junior year we showed respect before the game and after the game. We lost and even though we were upset that we lost we still gave our respect to the team and the coaches. We showed respect because it was the right thing to do after a very good weekend.

  48. Yes I was inspired by this and I think I would show the same class to a defeat because at the end of the day it’s just one match so just be positive for the person that did win.

  49. This story is inspiring because it shows how we should all show class when we lose because it is the respectful thing to do even if it’s hard.

  50. To me this story is very inspiring. After defeat you grow better. You learn what to do and what not to do. So I believe you must let defeat build your character too. One way is to show respect like Malik did, I feel that in a situation that like I would do the same. Do to others what you would want back.

  51. Yes, I found this story to be very inspiring because he acted out of skit and went above and beyond what most athletes would do. If I were in the same predicament I think I would act in the same manner. If I know someone’s dad is dying, I’m going to show gratitude towards them and their family (no matter if I win or lose a game). It’s about giving them respect and treating them how you would like to be treated if you were in the same situation.

  52. Yes I was inspired by this and I do think I could show this same respect in this defeat but it would be really hard and take a lot of respect for the other person or opponent to do so. I also think I would be able to do this because in swim we always congratulate who we have competed against even if they beat us.

  53. Yes, I believe that it was very inspirational. Instead of shaking the man’s hand, I would hug him and share a similar situation that happened in my life.

  54. It was very kind and heartfelt of him to do that, he didn’t have to but he did it anyways to show respect, his dad went through a similar thing but a heart attack so he knew how it felt, he knew he was very excited, he won that match for his dad and his opponent showed class and didn’t storm off because he lost he hugged his opponents dad and told him to keep fighting. Was very inspirational.

  55. I see this as a very respectful thing to do after the match especially since he lost I think he could be a very good role model for some people. I would do this out of respect for him and his dad I see it as you should have the same respect as you want him to have

  56. What he did was really inspirational and I think it sets not just a good example, but a great example for other people who are in sports today. I believe personally I already do this in sports after and before a swim meet I greet the other divers that we are competing against, and just chat with them about their dives and like how their day was and just get to know them a little better. I also believe that I would do this and show him how I would want other people to act and treat me.

  57. This story was very inspirational, the way that he walked up to his opponents father and said the things he did was very impressive. I don’t know if I would have done the things that Malik did, but I would have congratulated him on his victory because he had earned it.

  58. Yes. I already do my best to do things like this. For example, when I play against people I know I talk to them after the game and if they beat my team I tell them congrats, and usually if they beat us they deserved to win more than we did. I think that that young man, Malik went above and beyond anyone’s expectations and showed a great deal of respect. I can only hope that people think of me as respectful as well when it comes to sports.

  59. Yes I’d be able to show the same class because even if you lose the opponent still didn’t do anything to disrespect you

  60. yes i think i would because if i knew they were going through that id like to just tell then to stay strong and that youll get over it .

  61. Yeah i used to run track and when we lost id personally go to the other teams area and shake the coaches hands

  62. I did find this quite inspiring, and I feel that I would be able to behave in a similar matter. I, personally, try to respect everyone upon meeting them, especially knowing that everyone has different personal struggles in their life that we’re all facing.

  63. Yes because if I knew what my opponent was going through, I would do anything to make him to feel the same way i would, If that was me

  64. Yes, a loss is a loss and a win is a win you will have plenty of both wins and loses but you cannot be a poor sportsman because of a loss. You work harder and harder to get a win.

  65. Yes it is inspiring story, but I dont think I could do it to someone I dont know, but maybe so ones that I do know like that.

  66. I think this inspired me because it shows how much respect a person can show. I think that after watching this I would be able to do it because it was so respectful and it seemed to make everyone’s day.

  67. This is a true difinition of sportsmanship. The admiration that the opponent had to be able to go do that is amazing. A ture kind act from the heart, makes people have a better outlook on thesituation.