Is there room for Sportsmanship in Business?


Jonny Cooper, Dublin & Robert Hennelly, Mayo

Just a few weeks ago we saw Dublin take on Mayo in the All Ireland Football Final. Dublin managed to beat Mayo by a single point which left the hard-working Mayo team absolutely devastated with tears rolling down their faces.

After the match the above photo went viral as Dublin player Jonny Cooper ran down the pitch and over to the Mayo goalkeeper Robert Hennelly to console him, which showed true sportsmanship that the Dublin team and the GAA can be proud off.

The GAA supporters are famous for the banter and rivalry that goes on between supporters from the different counties, however once the final whistle blows all the fans come together in the same pubs and share a pint as they critique the match and the players from either side.

This got me thinking, why can’t this sort of sportsmanship exist off the pitch in the business world?

Obviously there is competition within every industry and different companies compete to be the best in their field. This rivalry and competition is natural and is absolutely needed to spur businesses on to reach their goals and the top of their market however wouldn’t it be great if like in sport, after the ‘match’ all the competitors got together to share a drink and toast the winner.

In business there’s rarely a simple ‘congratulations’ or  a ‘well done’ tweet, text, phone call or email when a rival company wins an account, an award, a client or a contract. Instead there is either absolute silence or sometimes even ridicule. Why can’t we, just like sports, when the final whistle blows, all just get along.

When we put on our ‘professional’ hats in the morning wouldn’t it be great if we left our personal ‘hat’ on underneath and realised that just because we are in work we shouldn’t forget the basic manners we were taught when we were young.

In the world of PR we preach to our client’s everyday about how important reputation management is.

Taking a leaf out of  Jonny Cooper’s book, and demonstrating good sportsmanship might be a good place to start!

Edel Cox - FuzionEdel Cox is a PR Account Manager with Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphis Design agency with offices in Cork and Dublin in Ireland.

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6 Responses to “Is there room for Sportsmanship in Business?”

  1. Greg Canty Says:

    Great blog post Edel.

    I found this blog post really challenging as I was reading it.

    I like to think that in general I am quite a good person, that I have good manners but I wonder can I be that gracious to my competitors.

    I would go as far as to say that I am probably getting worse with time – I know, it’s not a nice way to be so I need to review this.

    You made me think …. well done!

  2. Peadar Gill Says:

    One has to be careful.
    In our industry we are expressly forbidden from communicating with our competitors due to Anti-trust legislation.
    Communicating with competitors must be recorded in case it ever comes back to bite you.

  3. anthony garvey Says:

    Edel – I was delighted to read your post. I have two young sons and I try and teach them that if they do their best and lose, they should be still be proud of themselves. I tell them always to congratulate the winner.

    I work the same way in business. Anne Kiely of Anne Kiely & Associates kept turning up for the same PR business pitches as myself – some I would win, some Anne would win – after we got talking we decided to stop competing and work together!

    Always congratulate the winner because today’s competitor might be tomorrow’s business partner.

  4. Avril Allshire-Howe (@RosscarberyReci) Says:

    On more than one occasion, I have refused to quote for business, because I know another supplier will be able to give our customer options that we can’t because of our size. That may be sportsmanship, but it’s also knowing that when our customer wants something else, he will have no problem asking me & I’ll be straight & honest. We all have strengths & weaknesses, but respect & trust are the most important.

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