Sportsmanship and The King of Norway

December 17, 2015

Nobody can deny that athletics play a huge part in our lives at Gould.  My teammates and I spend an enormous amount of time training and prepping for our race season, so when it comes down to the day of the event, emotions run extremely high.  So today, because I’ve always found it interesting, I’m going to discuss sportsmanship, and I’m going to use a man named Petter Northug as my case study.  I’ll start by explaining that Northug is one of the greatest cross country skiers to ever live.  I’m sure some would disagree, but stick with me, and we can argue later.  Throughout his career he has amassed 18 world cup wins, 4 Olympic medals, and 13 world championship wins.


The man is unarguably handsome.

His success certainly speaks for itself, but I’d argue that’s not even what he’s best known for.  What he’s best know for is his confidence.  Northug, time and time again, spikes controversy for the outrageous things he says and does.  Earlier this year he won an early season FIS race by over 30 seconds, wearing a suit that clearly displayed the rivaling Swedish flag.  This was a clear sign of disrespect to both the Norwegian and Swedish team.  When asked about his race, he was roughly translated saying:

“It’s just training here; it means nothing that I won the race,”

“It would be as if I was celebrating beating my brother in a running race, and he was three and I was 14.”

Here’s a clip of a sprint race he won earlier this year.  Look at the move he makes at 1:25 and listen to that crowd! He is bib number 18.

I remember being told from a very young age about the importance of sportsmanship, and it often got even more emphasis that succeeding at the sport itself.  But what is the point of sportsmanship, and why to we place such extraordinary importance on it?  I would be willing to guess that the respect we hold towards our opponents is so important precisely for the reason I mentioned before: there are a lot of emotions tied up in athletic competitions.  And for youth sports it makes sense.  Cultivating athletes from a young age so they can find success later on requires them to enjoy themselves, and this can be difficult if their competitors put them down.  But Northug’s situation is quite a bit different.  When he boasts about being the fastest skier in the world he isn’t necessarily lying; on any given day, he might actually be the fastest skier in the world.  Regardless of how many people dislike the guy, they’ve gotta admit that he’s done some pretty cool stuff for cross country skiing.  He brings energy to a sport that most of the world writes off as “sorta lame.”  From what I can tell, the guy is nothing short of a celebrity in Norway.  But It definitely raises some interesting questions for all athletes.  How should we act?  All I know for sure is that in all the sports I’ve done at Gould, we seem to find middle ground between respect and fun.  I think that is a good thing to strive for.

The other day I found out that a Swedish rapper made a song about Petter, and it’s pretty funny.  I have no idea if the song is vulgar or not, because it’s in Swedish, but maybe if Corinne is reading she can let me know:


Television Recommendation:

House of Cards is the critically acclaimed political drama that put Netflix on the map for original programming.  Kevin Spacey plays a cutthroat politician, hungry for power, and Robin Wright expertly portrays his wife.  I should note that this show has my mother’s seal of approval also.  House of Cards is due for a fourth season on Netflix in 2016.

Tomorrow I’m off to Vermont to kick of the cross country ski season, so I should start packing.




2 Responses

  1. Avatar Nancy says:

    Good luck at the race tomorrow. Nice to see some snow, if only in a video.

  2. Avatar Grandma Hoeh says:

    Thanks for the video of that exciting race. And good luck in your race!

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