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Winning Essays  Celebrate  Sportsmanship   March  1  marks  the  15th  National  Sportsmanship  Day  across  the  USA.  The  even,   started  by  the  Institute  for  International  Sport,  raises  awareness  about  fair  play,   sportsmanship  and  ethics  in  athletics  and  society.   In  the  spirit  of  sportsmanship,  more  than  12,000  students  at  all  levels—elementary,   middle  and  high  school  and  college—were  asked:  Do  you  dare  to  play  fair?   Nearly  1,000  essays  were  submitted  addressing  sportsmanship  and  ethics  or   offering  a  personal  reflection  on  good  or  poor  sportsmanship.  A  panel  of  judges   chose  the  four  winners.   High  School  Winner:  Tara  Walker,  age  18   Senior  at  Idaho  Falls  High  School  in  Idaho  Falls,  Idaho   With  each  successive  year,  the  importance  placed  on  integrity  within  society   becomes  less  and  less.  Instead  of  failing  with  honor,  people  place  a  higher  value  on   success-­‐  no  matter  the  means  for  achieving  it.  The  human  race  has  forgotten  that  the   worth  of  a  life  lived  lies  in  the  integrity  of  that  life.  Today,  numerous  amounts  of   people  contrive  dishonest  ways  to  accomplish  even  the  tritest.  Within  schools   students  can't  find  the  capacity  to  use  their  own  minds  to  complete  assignments  and   tests.  We  are  only  cheating  ourselves  when  we  are  dishonest.  A  couple  of  years  ago  I   had  an  experience  that  has  caused  me  to  reflect  often  on  my  own  personal  integrity.   It  was  my  eighth  grade  season  of  volleyball.  My  team  was  predicted  to  place  second   in  the  district  tournament.  We  had  worked  hard  in  learning  to  play  together.  All  of   us  had  memorized  the  plays  our  coach  had  taught  and  we  were  eagerly  awaiting  the   upcoming  matches.  I  felt  confident  in  us  and  knew  that  we  could  be  successful.  My   parents  have  always  taught  my  brother,  sisters,  and  I  to  be  honest  —  even  if  it   meant  sacrificing  things  we  cherished.  Honesty  had  become  a  very  important   principal  to  me.  It  was  ingrained  into  my  character  and  without  thinking  it  became  a   part  of  my  day-­‐to-­‐day  decisions.   The  day  of  the  big  district  games  arrived.  Excitement  crackled  through  the  gym  in   anticipation  of  the  final  outcome.  My  team  would  play  the  number  one  seeded  team   to  see  where  we  would  be  placed  for  the  tournament  play.  The  game  began  with  an   intensity  we  girls  had  not  yet  experienced.  It  was  a  close  match  and  towards  the  end   of  the  third  game  my  team  got  sloppy.  An  error  was  made.  The  ball  appeared  to  have   gone  outside  the  antennae  before  landing  on  the  opposing  team's  side.  The  girls  on   my  team  argued  that  it  had  not  and  that  the  ball  was  ours.  The  referee  looked  to  the   line  judge  for  the  final  decision.  She  looked  nervous  but  agreed  that  the  ball  had   been  inside  the  antennae.  We  cheered  heartily  but  my  heart  sank.  From  where  I  had   been  standing  on  the  court,  I  had  seen  the  ball  graze  the  antennae  on  its  outer  side.  I   knew  that  the  referee's  call  had  not  been  fair.  For  a  moment  I  disregarded  the   thought,  but,  my  conscience  pricked  me  again  and  my  decision  became  apparent.  I   left  my  team  and  walked  to  the  ref.  She  leaned  down  from  her  stand  and  I  told  her  

what I'd  seen.  She  thanked  me  for  my  honesty,  blew  the  whistle  and  gave  the  ball  to   our  opponents.   We  lost  that  match,  but  I  gained  something  greater.  At  first,  the  girls  on  my  team   were  angry  with  what  I  had  done  but  later  some  of  them  thanked  me  for  my   honesty.  That  day  we  placed  second  in  districts.  It  wasn't  first,  but  the  lesson  I   learned  was  far  more  important.    

USA Today Sportsmanship Essay Contest  

This article was submitted to USA Today (2005) for their annual sportsmanship essay contest, and won first place in the high school entries....

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