Wednesday, September 30 2020


Sportsmanship makes the game

Update: July, 08/2018 - 09:00

By Robert Bicknell

OK, first off, thank you to everyone who took the time to wish me a Happy Birthday (July 4th) where I officially turned 60 years old. Yes, I know that’s 61 in Viet Nam. Haizzz…

The only good thing about it is I can play from the white tees now if I want and drive many of the Par 4’s. The problem is I’d still walk off with a Par. I have a strong aversion to prosperity, so “one-on” would automatically result in a three-putt for Par.

The bad thing about it is Viet Nam never has “Senior Citizen Discounts” and I’m not about to fly back to the US just to get half price movie tickets. C’est la vie.

Like many of you, I am a bit bleary-eyed from watching football into all hours of the night, and while I really don’t have a dog in this fight (the US didn’t make it… again), I did develop some allegiances towards some of the teams simply by the way they played.

Especially, Team Japan.

While watching their match against Belgium I was quite impressed by the simple fact they refused to flop and beg for penalties. When knocked down legitimately, the bounced back up and kept playing. There were no swan dives and serious overacting. They came to play football, not win an Academy Award.

If that wasn’t enough, they bowed to the fans after the loss to thank them for coming to support, even if for the other side.

But wait, it gets even better. After the match, even though Japan lost, the Japanese fans stayed afterwards, as they always do, to clean-up the area they were sitting. Yup, the blue trash bags were out and it was spotless afterwards.

And if that wasn’t enough, Team Japan cleaned up their locker room afterwards and left a note, in Russian, thanking them for their hospitality.

That’s class.

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has been to Japan. This is part of their culture. They take pride in such things. Perhaps, this is why you can leave your phone or laptop on a table in a Japanese café in Tokyo, go to the toilet and the item is still there when you return.

I see this on the golf course all the time. As a club manager, I knew that if I had a Japanese group booked for 7:03am, they will be on the tee ready and expecting to tee off exactly at 7:03, and they get a bit ruffled if they have to tee off at 7:04. Their thought is, “If we can be on time, why can’t the club be on time?” Good point.

Being late is rude and if there’s one thing that Japanese have, its good manners.

And they’re absolutely right. But the problem is that golf in Viet Nam is a multi-cultural sport and not everybody has the same sense of time, or responsibility.

There are some groups (you know who they are) who will book a 7am tee time, casually saunter into the club at 7:15, decide to have a bowl of pho, then wander out to the tee box around 7:45 and start to scream when told they have to wait because they missed their tee time.

I wonder if these same people show up at Vietnam Airlines 30 minutes late for their flight and scream because the plane left without them.

All sports have rules and it’s not acceptable to break them. What’s worse is when people knowingly break them and then have the nerve to look innocent afterwards.

Ronaldo, Pepe, Neymar Jr, etc all fall to the ground when a stiff wind strikes them, acting as if their head was getting cut off. Then they have the nerve to look surprised when the referee tells them to get the hell back up or get a yellow card for bad acting.

At least Mickelson admitted that he knew what he was doing when he broke the rules and knocked a rolling ball back to the hole.

I grew up with a simple rule taught to me by my parents and coaches: “It’s not if you win or lose, but how you play the game.”

Very true. VNS


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