sports·​man·​ship | \ˈspȯrts-mən-ˌship \

Definition of sportsmanship 

: conduct (such as fairness, respect for one's opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport

Examples of sportsmanship in a Sentence

He's a great player who's also admired for his sportsmanship.

Recent Examples on the Web

Memorial Trophy Given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. Michael Blinn,, "2018 NHL Awards: Tracking the Trophy Winners," 20 June 2018 Inspired by her father’s sportsmanship, Ms. Yee, winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, has written a play about a college basketball team that travels to China. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "13 Plays and Musicals to Go to in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 31 May 2018 That system awards an extra point in the standings for good sportsmanship during a game. Jon J. Kerr,, "Unsportsmanlike conduct: AHAI cites uptick in abuse of hockey referees," 2 Apr. 2018 Good sportsmanship as a given, our deliberately modest team goals for this year were to have fun, get better and hopefully win some games along the way. Rob Manker, Naperville Sun, "Manker: Lessons learned on ballfield sometimes bring winning and losing into perspective," 5 July 2018 Ultimately, steps taken to keep the rivalry spirited yet civil have included a renewed emphasis on sportsmanship and the code of ethics outlined in the California Interscholastic Federation’s program of Pursuing Victory with Honor. Oscar Terrones,, "South Bay baseball rivals decide to cool it," 20 Apr. 2018 Tiger offered to help because sportsmanship is important. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Tiger Woods joined 30 people in a frantic search for Dustin Johnson's golf ball," 14 June 2018 Demonstrating poor sportsmanship as an adult has a longer-lasting effect on your child than does a bad call or a genuine mistake. Sarah Schreiber, Good Housekeeping, "Viral Little League Sign Reminds Parents That "This Is Just a Game"," 25 Apr. 2017 The sportsmanship award is determined by a vote of the players. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "What NBA award did Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker win again?," 25 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sportsmanship.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sportsmanship

1897, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for sportsmanship

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for sportsmanship

The first known use of sportsmanship was in 1897

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More Definitions for sportsmanship



English Language Learners Definition of sportsmanship

: fair play, respect for opponents, and polite behavior by someone who is competing in a sport or other competition


sports·​man·​ship | \ˈspȯrts-mən-ˌship \

Kids Definition of sportsmanship

: fair play, respect for opponents, and gracious behavior in winning or losing

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Comments on sportsmanship

What made you want to look up sportsmanship? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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