This “Swim Opinion” is courtesy of Kelsey Stark, SwimSwam Intern. Follow: @Kelso_Stark
At the end of Super Bowl 49, the Seahawks and Patriots did something that surprised me and the seven other swimmers; they started brawling. After the fight was over, I asked a question:
“What do you think our coach would do if we started fighting with our rival team at the end of conference meet?”
The answers varied from, He’d send the assistant coach in to break us up to Kick our butts!
We all knew the consensus, however; we would no longer be swimming for our Division I swim program. In our sport, on our team, no matter if it were the best swimmer or the worst, our coach would not have tolerated it.
As an avid Patriots fan, I felt embarrassed for my team. These are professional athletes, getting paid millions of dollars a year, with thousands of young fans watching the Super Bowl, and they start throwing punches because they’re losing.
What does this teach our athletes?
The announcer said the Seahawks player was frustrated. Would Milorad Cavic smacking Michael Phelps after the 100 butterfly in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics or Rome at the World Championships be okay, just because he was frustrated? No! It sets a terrible example and is the epitome of bad sportsmanship. Young athletes should know that fighting, no matter what the reason, has no place in sports.
Perhaps the reason why swimmers aren’t as prone to aggression as football players is because swimming is a non-contact sport. Maybe it’s because, as swimmers, we’re simply too exhausted at the end of the race to do much other than hang onto the lane line and pant. But, I think, it goes deeper than that. Cavic didn’t clock Phelps after the 100 fly in Beijing because he was thinking about his race, and, perhaps, about what he did wrong or needed to correct.
As swimmers, we know how hard we worked. When we lose, from a young age, our coaches teach us that throwing our goggles or acting out in frustration is frowned upon, because that isn’t going to change the outcome for next time. What will change the outcome is getting back in the pool and training, doing the work needed to improve.
Are swimmers better sportsmen / sportswomen? What if swimmers brawled on your team? What would your coach do? Share in the comments.