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The Best and Worst acts of Sportsmanship

Sport is full of emotion, which can sometimes spill over in the heat of the moment. There is an unwritten set of rules which governs players conduct in sport – it’s known as sportsmanship. In some sports men and women regularly show brilliant examples of sportsmanlike conduct, while others have been known to slip below the standard expected.

In this blog, we take a look at two of the best and two of the worst acts of sportsmanship from down the years.

The best

‘Freddie’ Flintoff at Edgbaston – 2005


England had just overcome arch-rivals Australia in the second Ashes Test of 2005, after an epic struggle. Brett Lee was one of the last Australian batsmen at the crease and England had thrown everything at him, until his partner at the other end nicked behind to hand England the Test. While most other players could be seen celebrating, the first thing England all-rounder Flintoff did was to commiserate the brave Lee, who could do nothing about the eventual outcome. It created an iconic image which adorns the walls of sports bars everywhere.

Paulo Di Canio vs Everton – 2000

Known for his fiery temperament, Italian Di Canio showed the gentlemanly side of his game in this Premier League clash. After Everton keeper Paul Gerrard went down injured in his own area, Di Canio had a simple tap in to score after being squared the ball by Trevor Sinclair. Instead of shooting as most would have done, he picked up the ball and signalled for medical attention for the stricken goalie.

The worst

Trevor Chappell vs New Zealand – 1981

If one sport puts sportsmanship on a pedestal, it is cricket, but that’s not what Chappell had in mind at the end of this One Day International against New Zealand. With the Black Caps needing six to win from the final ball, Chappell listened to advice from his captain and brother and bowled the ball underarm to prevent the batsman from getting the necessary leverage he needed. Underarm bowling was subsequently banned.

Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield – 1997

This was a genuine elite match-up in the heavyweight division, featuring archetypal bad boy Tyson against the clean-living, God-fearing Holyfield. Tyson didn’t take too well to clinching by Holyfield and what he perceived as a head butt which went unpunished. Even so, there was no need for the incident which followed – Tyson bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear in one of the most startling scenes ever seen inside a boxing ring.

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