Sportsmanship: Inspiration from the Real Winners in Rio

bigstock--142939220I love the Olympics. I can’t get enough of the competitions, athlete stories, landscape views of the host city and especially capybaras on the golf course. I grew up in the time when absolutely nothing else was on TV during the Olympics. Now you can find it on at least six channels, live streaming on the internet and coverage on all social media. I had to turn off my news notifications to avoid gold medal spoiler alerts.

You know what I love the most? It’s the stories of good sportsmanship. Sportsmanship is defined as fair play, respect for opponents and polite behavior by someone who is competing in a sport or other competition.

Couldn’t we all use a little better sportsmanship in the world and in our jobs? It seems like lately there has been a plethora of bad behavior on the campaign trail and in our communities. But I’m inspired by these recent examples in Rio:

  • Long distance runners Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand tripped and fell to the ground. What did Abbey do? She got up and helped Nikki up, too. But it didn’t stop there. Abbey’s knee was hurt, and she fell again. This time Nikki helped her get back up. They may both have missed their opportunity to qualify, but they showed the true example of sportsmanship.
  • When Great Britain’s men’s sevens rugby team defeated Argentina, they paused their celebration to console their opponents.
  • And for those of us who can’t get enough of the USA women’s gymnastics, who can forget the graceful way Simone Biles congratulated her teammate, Laurie Hernandez and the Netherlands gymnast when they both scored higher than her? When recounting her interaction with Laurie, Simone said “I told her, ‘You did it, good job, and I couldn’t be more proud of you.’ And I’m so excited for her, so excited. She deserves it more than anybody.”

I’m ready to lobby the Olympic Committee for sportsmanship gold medals. These wouldn’t be participation medals. They are medals awarded to only the exceptional athletes that show respect and play fair.

But more importantly, I’d like to lobby for more sportsmanship in our daily life. Can we play more fair at work? Can we be more polite? Can we all just respect each other and the talents we bring? If we can just do that a little more often, we will all be winners.

Cheryl Farley is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter at @CherylMFarley or connect by email at