At nearly the highest stage of NCAA College Football, Florida State and Oregon, two of the top teams in the country, showed the world that many of their team-members still need to pass NCAA Football Sportsmanship 101.  It began with Jameis Winston gradually becoming unglued in the 4th quarter as the game slipped to a point where a comeback was out of the question.  Winston’s coach, Jimbo Fisher finally had to get serious with him, saying, according to SBNation, “Jameis, if you don’t calm the f*** down, you’re going to the bench.”  To make matters worse, the video of this talk between them immediately went viral.  Luckily, Winston did seem to calm down.  He also redeemed himself a bit by going across the field and shaking hands with Oregon players at the end of the game, something that is commonplace sportsmanship in every league that I know of.  Unfortunately, about two-thirds of the Florida State team didn’t get the memo, as they went directly to their locker room instead of offering congratulations to Oregon.

Not Just Florida State, Oregon Too?

If I stopped the story there, it would just be Florida State who walked away with a tarnished image.  Unfortunately for the Ducks (and also for me writing this, as a two-time Oregon alumn and a fan) some players decided it would be a good idea to chant “no-means-no” in tune with the Florida State chant and tomahawk arm motion, which was a direct taunt to Jameis Winston, who had been facing sexual assault charges over the past few years.

Over 28 Million Viewers Witnessed Bad NCAA Football Sportsmanship.

For both teams the negative PR and reputation costs over this kind of behavior was magnified significantly, as according to Fox Sports, over 28 million viewers were watching the game.  For Oregon football in particular, their reputation this year behind Marcus Mariota’s character and leadership has been extraordinary, so it was quite unfortunate to see it blemished by the behavior of a few.  Further, I’m sure that Mark Helfrich and the Ducks organization would rather be 100% focused on preparing for the National Championship game than having to deal with any kind of damage control at this time.

Wrap Up.

In end of season, high-pressure, win-or-lose games, athletes can often end that game in one of two frames of mind: celebration or frustration.  In either case, the emotions present can be very strong and sometimes override their better judgment.  It is often a brilliant move by a coach to call a timeout, win-or-lose, prior to the end of a high-stakes game, to calm their athletes down and reinforce the tenets of their code of conduct and proper sportsmanship.  Team leaders also have a role in this, by not only modelling good behavior, but by reinforcing good behavior and correcting their teammates’ bad behavior immediately on-and-off the field of play.

In the upcoming National Championship Game you can bet on celebration and frustration making an appearance.  Whether or not either will manifest bad sportsmanship in the view of millions is up to each team to decide.

Author: Jeff Sather, MS