The True Art of Sportsmanship

With the 2014 competition season now in full swing, I thought it would be a good time to bring up a very important, and often overlooked, aspect of competing: sportsmanship.

A LOOK BACK

When I first entered the world of competition I can remember the immense loneliness I felt as I prepped for the big day. I didn’t know many in the fitness world, and the Facebook “movement” hadn’t yet really taken off. That fear of the unknown consumed me as I dieted down and trained my butt off, not knowing if I had what it took to line up next to more seasoned competitors. I had no one to ask questions of or turn to as I readied myself for my first figure competition.

Even today, I can remember the wash of relief as I arrived backstage where trainers, family or friends weren’t allowed. Relief that I wasn’t the only one with the obvious look of fear behind my smiling eyes. As I looked around I could see the same look in the eyes of my fellow competitiors and that’s what drew us together.

BACKSTAGE

Backstage is a unique place. The distinct smell of spray tanned, non-deodorized bodies, mixed with fear, apprehsion and a tad bit of insecurity in the air. Eyes of competitors darting around the room, checking out the competition.

There are two paths a competitor can choose choose when backstage:

  1. stay in a corner by yourself, while eyeing up the competition with jealous envy, only increasing your insecurity, or
  2. mix and mingle, get to know your competition, and make a few new friends along the way

I chose path #2, and it’s served me well over the years. It’s rare to see girls who opt for #1 return to the stage.

Ask anyone who knows me, I’m a social butterfly backstage. For me, it’s the best part of competing. Getting together with my ever growing “fitfam” along the competition circuit. Seeing their changes and improvements at each show.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m competitive. VERY competitive. But, I’m not envious of my competition. If I don’t bring my best to a show, I have only myself to blame, not the judges, not my coach and certainly not my fellow competitors. If I allow envy and insecurity to creep into my psyche at any competition, it is my own doing. It means I haven’t properly prepared and haven’t brought my absolute best to the stage.

I’m not sure if it is something that comes with maturity or with my job, but I have a real sense of team and feel a team affinity with each and every competitor backstage, whether I know them or not. We all worked hard to get there, and all deserve to be on that stage. Everyone has their “story to the stage” and that’s exactly what inspires me – from the new mother who decided to compete as motivation to get back in shape, to the seasoned athlete looking to attain her IFBB pro card.

True sportsmanship is about being comfortable and honest enough with yourself to accept your flaws, appreciate others’ accomplishments, and support each other along the way.

Good luck on your competition journey.

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