As sports fans are frantically filling out their brackets for college basketball's March Madness, a new survey shows that mildness – not madness – best describes Americans' attitude toward sports.
LifeWay Research sought out to discover Americans’ philosophy on sports, so the Christian organization compiled a list of four statements that are commonly associated with competitive sports and asked 1,000 Americans to select which statement best describes their philosophy of sports.
Here is what the researchers found in their nationwide survey, starting with the most widely chosen take on sports and athletics:
- “It's not whether you win or lose – it's how you play the game.” (52 percent)
- “It's only a game.” (40 percent)
- “Winning isn't everything – it's the only thing,” (7 percent)
- “If you ain't cheatin', you ain't trying.” (less than 1 percent)
LifeWay Executive Director Scott McConnell stressed that even though many Americans are sports fanatics, most see competing in athletics as a medium to build character and just have fun.
"How you play the game – the character that's involved – is definitely important to the majority of Americans,” McConnell pointed out from the study. “And to nine out of 10 Americans (92 percent), their message is, “Calm down – it's just a game.”
The research guru gave his explanation as to why he believes Americans answered the way they did.
“It can be fun – it can be something where you get to exhibit some good character and sportsmanship – but at the same time, it's not everything.,” McConnell continued. “And especially with news of concussions and sometimes life-long injuries that can result in sports – that's probably behind some of these sentiments, [with the mindset], ‘Be careful … you don't make it that important … Your health and your character are some things that are maybe more important.’"
McConnell also pointed out that while most Americans surveyed appear to believe that good sportsmanship is important, half of those surveyed say good sportsmanship is rarely exhibited in American sports today.