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Motion: Professionalism detracts from sportsmanship
Side: Negative

Opening speech of the captain

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

Having been enlightened by the affirmative side on the definition of the motion, I’d like to redefine it in a broader, more up-to-date way.

“Professionalism” refers to the practice of paying players who participate in certain sports. More and more sports are becoming professional. Why? Because paid players have the time to pursue excellence, in fitness and ability to reach high levels of skill.

I’d like to remind our opponents that professionalism also includes setting up professional bodies and employing people who have expertise of the profession, people like professional trainers.

The word “sportsmanship” involves both attitude and behavior. Dear opponents, I’ll shake hands with you, whether my team wins or loses. That shows sportsmanship, right? But genuine sportsmanship goes beyond gestures of courtesy. It refers to fairness, honesty and politeness in a competition. Respect for the rules and for other players is important. If we win this debate and gloat over our victory, we show poor sportsmanship. If we lose and curse our opponents and adjudicators, we also show poor sportsmanship. If we think we are likely to lose and give up trying, that’s poor sportsmanship too. Or if we resort to dirty tricks like spying over our opponents, needless to say, poor sportsmanship again.

In defining sportsmanship, our opponent has missed one very important point. Jill Oser says, “sportsmanship is about competing and training and getting to your peak ability.” Please note the phrase “getting to your peak ability”. This is precisely what professionalism helps players achieve.

Sportsmanship is seen and admired in professional games despite some aberrations. Don’t you admire the skill and sportsmanship of Pele? Not many admire John McEnroe and enroll in His School of Sportsmanship, do they?

Professionalism strengthens rather than detracts from sportsmanship. Professional players win the game with their expertise; they need not fall back on dirty play. Also, foul play endangers their livelihood, so participants are less likely to do it and ruin their careers. Professional bodies help lay down rules and ensure that players abide by these rules. Professional trainers help sportsmen strengthen their expertise, thus enabling them to perform to the best of their ability.

Even if the affirmative side thinks that sportsmanship is not always practiced, we can tell you that there are many factors contributing to these failures, factors like nationalism, ideology and pursuit of personal glory. Professionalism is definitely NOT one of these factors.

Now let’s look at the verb phrase “detract from”. It means diminish, make less impressive. Professionalism means that sport is no longer the privilege of an elite minority who do not need to earn an income. This used to be the unfair, unsporting situation.

Professionalism enables many people to compete at a higher level in sports because they are openly and honestly paid. They do not need a private income to have the time to practice and reach a higher level. Nor do they have to resort to involvement in dishonest, unsportsmanlike sham amateurism.

The ideals of professionalism are also found in other walks of life where they also enhance sportsmanship or fair play.

Professionalism does not diminish sportsmanship. It is simple logic that great skill and high standards enhance fair play, honesty and excellence.

First speaker’s speech

Good afternoon,

Who is more admirable, Michael Jordan or God? A survey conducted on 500 American kindergarten children shows their preference. Michael Jordan first, God second, if lucky. What makes them admire this professional football player? His phenomenal performance in game 5 of last year’s NBA Finals when he displayed the loftiest heights of sportsmanship....
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