JU Sportsmanship, Does It Exist?

Cha Thorpe

Competitive rivalry is what largely fuels enthusiasm for college and university sports, but how often is it seen where there is rivalry among athletic teams for the same university? The question becomes whether or not there is sportsmanship among athletes and if it is displayed on campus.

Rooted in tradition, Jacksonville University’s athletic division has grown and gained national attention with victories in football, men’s basketball and other sports.  Passionate coaching staffs, enthusiastic students and dedicated alumni are all fans that continuously exude support for athletics on campus, but is there an underlying rivalry among the players and participants of certain teams?

From whispers on campus to headlines in the news, we’ve heard of incidents where brawls, scuffles and discrepancies have taken place between athletes on and off of campus. Would it be safe to assume that these incidents spring from rivalry and lack of sportsmanship?

Student athlete Keith McDougald, sophomore of the men’s basketball team, disagrees strongly.

“Yes, sportsmanship is on campus because all athletes are close with one another, and we earn respect through sportsmanship,” said McDougald.

More recently, an altercation broke out at a local nightclub after the JU football’s victory on September 17. The event was held in celebration of the first home game of the season and was hosted by the football team and JU Dance Team. Toward the end of the event a fight broke out between a group of JU athletes and the tensions carried over back on campus.

No official word was given on what initially started the confrontation, but it is known that the participants were members of both the football team and men’s basketball team. It seems however, that it was not a lack of sportsmanship that led to the incident, but simply a misunderstanding involving two separate parties.

Sportsmanship is highly stressed among university athletics. Senior Ashanti Williams, a member of the woman’s basketball team, knows the importance of sportsmanship and feels that it is displayed on campus.

“There definitely is sportsmanship on campus because it’s our duty to support our fellow athletes and other [organizations] on campus, its called Athletes Supporting Athletes, and that is how we support each other. We all know what each other go through, therefore we are all each other’s support system,” said Williams.

Sportsmanship is displayed on campus because, in many cases, it’s a requirement and athletes are strongly encouraged to attend other sporting events and display school spirit.

According to Devon Dowell, a 5th year graduate student, former woman’s soccer player and now helping coach, “There is always going to be internal competition among the teams at JU, but there is also a supportive atmosphere amongst the athletes.”

Men’s basketball assistant coach Willie Jones said that sportsmanship is the best here on JU’s campus.

Jones said, “I think sportsmanship on campus is very strong. It’s the best I have seen at any school I have coached. [The athletic director] does a great job stressing this to the student athletes and you can tell by the camaraderie amongst the different athletes.”