Sportsmanship isn’t always about winning — or even competing. It calls for both teammates and competitors to treat one another with fairness and respect, even if that means giving up their chance to shine.
Recently, Ireland’s lacrosse team proved they take this ethos to heart when, in an incredible gesture, they stepped down to lift another team up.
Ireland Lacrosse was one of eight teams selected to compete at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama, based on their placement in the 2018 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship. The Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team, on the other hand, was not. But they came in third, while Ireland Lacrosse placed twelfth.
Unfortunately, the International World Games Association ruled the Iroquois Nationals weren’t eligible to participate in The World Games for two reasons. First, they don’t represent a sovereign nation, though they do represent the Iroquois Confederacy, which is made up of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora tribes. Second, they don’t have an Olympic committee. But the association later changed its mind, announcing the team could play if a spot opened up.
For Ireland Lacrosse, the decision was easy. In September, the team announced they would be withdrawing from the men’s tournament so the Iroquois Nationals could take their rightful place.
“It’s simply the right thing to do,” Michael Kennedy, CEO of Ireland Lacrosse said. “We are a proud member of World Lacrosse and we recognize the importance of The World Games to the continued growth of our sport. As much as our players would have been honored to compete, we know the right thing is for the Iroquois Nationals to represent our sport on this international stage.”
As the only Native American team with international recognition, the Iroquois Nationals couldn’t be more grateful for the beautiful display of sportsmanship.
“Your actions have spoken louder than words showing everyone the true power of sport, and the spirit of lacrosse,” the team wrote on Twitter.
Way to go, Ireland Lacrosse! The selfless choice you made as a team makes all of you champions, whether you compete or not.
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