Maybe it is the lack of big money or big media attention- but do you know who you DON'T usually catch trashing each other? Distance runners (and probably most endurance athletes in general). This article by Runner's World reminded me of why I love watching and following distance running and runners (other than the fact that I like to run): Competition Can Be Kind.
That year, the 10K route ran along both sides of the canal. As I ran along one side of the canal at about kilometre 3, I could hear a ripple of cheering and noise going through the crowd. As I looked to my left, I realized it was because on the other side of the canal, the elites were running by. We were all cheering for the people who were kicking our butts.
Yes, I realize that we weren't really all in the same race. We mortals were racing for fun or personal challenge while the elites were racing for money. But the camaraderie among runners is still there. That same race, a man came up behind me just as I was struggling a bit to maintain my pace, looked at my bib to find out my name and said "you're doing great Kristen" and ran beside me for about 15 seconds. I could tell he was trying to get me to "latch on" so that he could pull me along while I struggled.
In another race (a 5K in which I just had a terrible terrible race) a guy came up behind me when I slowed down and perhaps cursed myself a bit and said "no, you can't slow down- you were my muse- come on, let's finish this together." And my experience in Oka had another good moment with another runner (that time I couldn't keep up). I love that feeling of "we've all been there" that goes on in running and in races.
Do you have a favourite example of sportsmanship?