Love, sex, and math. Three things that start out simple but get real complicated real quick. And here's another thing that starts simple and get real quick: what exactly constitutes being a good sport and what is understandable in the passion of the moment?
It's only now that the news is hurrumphing Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, the runners-up in the Super Bowl. (I guess they've gotten over The Who's halftime show.) Supposedly, when the game was over, Manning didn't go out on the field to congratulate the winners of the Super Bowl. He stalked off the field, pissed as all hell. So people are asking, would it have killed him to be a good sport and congratulate the other team? The simple answer is, no, it's a simple gesture, you salute your betters, you remember this day and learn from it, and go on to become a better person. But here's where it gets complicated.
See...as far as Manning stalking away after a game he was ready to win slipped through his grasp?
I don't blame him.
I've played plenty of games (take the heyday of Mortal Kombat) where I thought I brought my A game, and through luck or bad management or whatever, I bombed out horribly. I was upset and frustrated. With my luck, sure, but mostly with myself. These games, I knew what to do, how to handle the situation, and could execute the strategies and moves flawlessly. In short, there was no good reason for me to lose. This isn't a case of the opponent was better than me (although I've been in that situation, too, and it ain't any more fun). I could have won. I had it within my grasp. And I blew it. It's one part being pissed at myself and one part frustration because you know where you went wrong, and your mind plays it all back with clarity -- you are rubbing your own nose in your loss. And the LAST thing I wanted at those moments was to smile, say "Good game", and shake hands. In fact, searching my memory, the only times I seem to recall doing that is when the game is casual or experimental, when it really doesn't matter if I win or lose.
Conversely, when I win a tough game, the last thing I am is philosophical. My heart is pounding, I can feel sweat moving through my hair follicles, I'm breathing heavy, and I feel I've earned the victory, I feel that brushing it off will minimize the effort.
Now, this isn't to say that, when I win, I start berating my opponent for being inferior. Likewise, when I lose, I don't start hurling person insults at whoever beat me. Which is sportsmanship to some degree (my buddy had an MK party at his house. I beat one guy, and he threw the controller on the floor and then flipped the easy chair I was sitting in on its back with me in it before stalking out of the room. A consensus was quickly reached -- the guy was never invited again). But at what point are you considered a jerk for wanting to go off and sulk when things go wrong?
Conversely, does this mean that, if someone who beats you congratulates you for playing well, is he actually being condescending to you?
Like I said, it gets complicated really quick. Or as far as Manning goes, to quote Chris Rock, "I'm not saying he shoulda done it...but I understand...."