Probably every fan of physical activity, amateur and professional, knows the concept of fair play rule; it is also widely known to those who do not play sports themselves, but they support their favourite team or a particular player. Usually we interpret fair play as a “pure game”, a fight in accordance with the specific rules, honesty and fairness. The meaning of this term, however, goes far beyond what we may call a clean or fair game. So what is fair play exactly?
Nowadays this term usually defines a set of rules which define the values represented by athletes. These principles can be divided into four groups: equal opportunities, conscious renouncement of dishonest victory, voluntary compliance with the rules of the game, respect for the opponent. Observance of the above rules should not result from coercion, but from the personal beliefs of participants in sports competition.
The rules of fair play game can be implemented in the following way: selfless respect for the rules of the game, not using random advantage in the game, respect for the opponent, openness of the action, recognition of the referee authority, getting rid of selfishness in sport, maintaining equal opportunities, restraint of one’s reactions on the outcome of an encounter, ban punching in the back, not flauting a “fair” gesture, giving up the practical benefits of victory, minimizing the suffering of the opponent. To the list of behaviours which are consistent with the rules of fair play, one should also add the requirement of propriety during sport competitions.
The Fair Play Code proposed by Zofia and Ryszard Żukowscy consists of ten basic principles that athletes should follow regardless of age, sex, level of advancement and sport discipline:
- Fair play is my personal idea for success in life and in sport, but not at any price.
- Fair play is to me the joy of movement and competition, respect for the better player.
- Fair play – it’s my way to be myself in life and in sport, in contact with others.
- Fair play – it’s kindness for people, being helpful and cooperative in sport and with people in my class, school, my family.
- Fair play – is equal opportunities in the game, play, competitions, peer rivalry.
- Fair play – it’s you and me, it’s us and them, it’s about us all.
- Fair play – it is the observance of the rules of the game and regulations on a daily basis – in sport and in life general.
- Fair play – it’s a concern for my and colleagues health, my family and friends, during work and leisure.
- Fair play – it’s a respect for people, nature and the environment.
- Fair play – it’s my fight against disloyalty, injustice and frauds in life and in sport.
The idea of a clean game can be understood not only as an expectation of appropriate players’ behaviour, but also as a responsibility from teachers, trainers and sport promoters and organizers. The last ones should make sure that the rules of sports rivalry set by them are compatible with ethics and are clear to everyone and results as well as proper, fair play attitudes were awarded. It is equally important that the training process should take into account the physical and mental capabilities of the contestants. It is mostly teachers’ and trainers’ responsibility to provide their pupils with knowledge about the principles of “clean game” as persons who introduce young people to the world of sports competitions.
Fair play as a code of rules for an athlete can be treated as a determinant of respect for the opponent, but also (or maybe above all?) for oneself.