dave_littler (dave_littler) wrote,

A question as pertains to sportsmanship and dignity

A question which has weighed heavily upon my mind of late:

In the event that you should be challenged, in whatever arena, in a manner which is petty, small-minded, and picayune, what, truly, is the gentlemanly response?

It could be argued that the gentlemanly response is to turn one's nose up at the affront, refusing to "sink to the level" of your adversary, and maintain a dignified comportment, rather than answering the challenge in the vein in which it was received.

I, however, have been lately of the mind that another approach may bear merit: That perhaps to do so is anything but gentlemanly; it is rather snobbish and contemptuous. Indeed, it would seem to me, upon contemplation, that it may be possible to maintain one's sportsmanly dignity by engaging your opponent on precisely the same level as his petty and infantile attack, and in so doing, accept his challenge in a most gracious manner.

If, for example, a man were to throw a handful of horse dung from the street into your face, it could be fairly argued that this man has challenged you to a horse dung duel. In this event, if you were to refuse to answer in kind, would it not be a sign that you forfeit the challenge? That you are willing to grant him his victory, rather than accept the challenge and RISE to it?

It is not a question, so much, of judging a small and petty response on objective grounds, as it is of judging your acts within the narrow context of the scheme of events which they are an element of. In the preceding example, it seems to me that the act of throwing another mound of horse dung into the face of your challenger would be precisely the appropriate act, as it signals all and sundry that, rather than being unwilling to accept a challenge, sincerely and openly offered, you are gracious enough to accept his terms, as given, and act honourably within them.

I would welcome a vigorous debate on this issue.
Tags: 19th century, culture

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