London 2012 McKayla Maroney Silver Medal Reaction, a Sign of Bad Sportsmanship?

Luis Campos@luchalibrelife Analyst IAugust 12, 2012

Olympic athletes are not average human beings—they are thriving specimens of human excellence who train their bodies to levels of near perfection—but they are also not perfect. 

Despite their near legendary status, Olympic athlete are flawed beings prone to making mistakes like everyone else. 

The flaws of the Olympic athlete can be witness not just during the moments of competition when they fail to live up to their expectations, but also outside these events. 

As seen already during the Olympics, sometimes athletes make poor decisions that affect their reputation as Olympians. 

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately)  for those Olympic athletes, the International Olympic Committee has set up an oath which every athlete is under during the the duration of the Games: 

In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, in the truespirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.

The oath clearly outlines the importance of sportsmanship in the Olympics, and while this may be true, the outline for what actions entail "sportsmanship" are never clearly defined. 

In fact, can "sportsmanship" even be defined? It is obvious that an aggressive twitter rant does not fall under the category of "good" sportmanship, but what about other actions such as pouting after losing an event?

By now you have probably already seen the original picture—16-year-old American gymnast McKayla Maroney stands with her arms crossed with a look on her face that says it all—she is not impressed. 

Favored to win the gold medal in the women's vault competition, Maroney had an unfortunate fall in her second run. 

The American would still manage to grab a silver medal in the event, but the gold medal would be sweeped by the Romanian, Sandra Izbasa. 

Many have been calling the young Olympian's post medal ceremony actions an act of bad sportsmanship, with few critics online claiming that crying would have been a better response.

McKayla Maroney later apologized for her actions, stating "I was disappointed in myself, not the silver medal. (Today In London)"

The female gymnast seems to be sincere in her response after all, the loss was a disappointing one, but the question still stands, what this a sign of bad sportsmanship?

Are McKayla Maroney's actions on par with that of other more spiteful Olympians? Or is there perhaps a spectrum of bad sportsmanship? And ultimately, is there really a good way to maintain an attitude of gracefulness in the face of bitter defeat? 


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