SPORT AND FAIR PLAY: WHEN RESPECT AND FAIRNESS ARE PART OF THE GAME
The concept of Fair Play was born from the Code of Sports Ethics drawn up in Rhodes in 1992 by the European ministers of sport. It includes concepts that go far beyond simply respecting the rules of sport, but it represents a way of thinking in the sports field. The sporting ethical code concerns the fight against cheating, against tricks to circumvent the rules, the fight against doping, physical and psychological violence against sports actors, the fight against corruption and excessive marketing. In short, a virtuous behavior which, in order to take root in the sports field, should be present as a component in the life of each of us, sports and non-sportsmen.
If FairPlay is not present at school, at work, in the family it is very difficult to think that it can be expressed in sports competitions. Let’s think, for example, of those who must judge, sanction and evaluate the behavior or performance of a sportsman: juries, commissions, referees. The treatment of the latter is the one that gets worse year after year, reaching levels that are thought unacceptable until the next episode, leading to a delegitimization of those who have the task of assessing compliance with the rules of the game. Especially in football, the possibility of contesting the referee during the match ranges from the simple look of disapproval to strong verbal disputes up to threats and free physical attacks that often lead to very serious consequences.
The attack on referees who in the most popular sports are called to enforce the rules is the exact transposition of the attitude of a society in which there is a constant attack of those super partes figures who should settle disputes, enforce the rules to restore the right measure, delegitimizing them, consequently in their institutional roles (magistrates, guarantors, judges, authorities, etc.). Often the referee ends up becoming the scapegoat for everyone’s mistakes. Of course you may not agree with his decision, you may not like that referee is there but these are disputes that should be kept off the field and away from the game, also because they strongly influence everyone’s performance, including the referee , without anyone realizing it.
The attention to the FairPlay rules is unfortunately focused on something more “choreographic” so to speak, such as the end-of-race ceremonial (which has already been absent for some years already); as if shaking hands after being offended and having given them of good reason during a football match, perhaps railing against a referee who is called there to do his duty should be an indication of manifested sportiness! Concepts such as: respect for the referee, opponent, or supporter of the other team that cannot be reduced to a mere ritual at the end of the match that often assumes, as said, only a choreographic value. These are concepts and ways of doing, of acting, of behaving that should be inculcated since childhood within educational and growth institutions: family, school, community.
The rules of sportiness, the unwritten ones, are transmitted through the example of the people we grow up with and our imitation of their behavior. Not respecting the rules is a choice but this leads to an assumption of responsibility with respect to that transgression. In the sports field, respect for the rules is not only linked to compliance with the regulation of the sport that is practiced, but more wide-ranging also includes respect for the referee to whom you must have confidence that he will perform his task in the best way and more honestly possible considering that your possible errors are part of the race or performance; but also towards the opponent you must have maximum respect because it represents a necessary component of the performance,
The ethical aspect linked to sport, however, does not arise from wanting to play but must be accompanied, or rather driven by an education in respect for the rules, legality and peaceful civil coexistence that begins in the family, continues in school and continues natural life during. Fair Play is the result of education and education is often tiring, long and not smoothly leading to blockages or even to go back. Returning to Vygotsky it is interesting to consider the concept he expresses in “Imagination and creativity”. He states that being the game a moment of pleasure when the child puts it into action, he chooses the path of least resistance, precisely because he wants to have fun. At the same time, however, he learns to respect the rules, to submit to them, the way of greatest resistance, that which requires not to act on an immediate impulse. And it is precisely the discovery of possessing the strength to respect the rules that gives even more value to the game, enhancing its pleasure; having fun despite rules and regulations reinforces the child’s self-esteem.