Are Rules Violations Poor Sportsmanship?

I’m thinking of football for some reason, but it would presumably have broader application to other sports.

Meaning, suppose the rules say that you can’t do X, and in a given situation you judge that the penalties for doing X are likely smaller than the damage to your side from not doing X (e.g. some pass interference situations), and/or that you’re not so likely to be caught altogether, is the proper “fair play” approach to do X or not?

There might be a difference in the two situations above, i.e. between whether you’re judging that the penalty is less harmful than the alternative on the one hand, and situations where you’re in a position to violate the rules without getting caught on the other. (In basketball, fouling in the closing minute of the game to stop the clock and get the ball back is SOP.)

You would also need to differentiate in the case of rules which are in place to prevent serious injury to the opposing player.

Perhaps it is “poor sportsmanship,” but in most professional team sports, a team’s fans don’t particularly care how sportsmanlike the team plays, as long as it wins. If the “penalty is better than not causing it in the first place,” that’s more of a rules problem than a sportsmanship one. (Perhaps the NFL should change its rules so that intentional pass interference is further penalized by having the interfering player sit out the next play. The only problem is, you might get into a situation where it happens near the end of an important game and the official doesn’t want to call it intentional for “fear of influencing the game”.)

Not the only problem. Witness the phenomenon of the hockey enforcer, whose primary contribution to the team is the ability to inflict flagrant penalties on the opposition with very little loss other than time in the box (and the corresponding power play)… expendability, if you will, as a job skill.

Sitting out the next play is not that big a deal. Players go out for one play all the time.

If the cornerback can see that the ball is to far over his head for him to block it, and the receiver has no one between him and the end zone, he can prevent an almost-sure touchdown by immediately going for the receiver. Question is if he should.

In general, what you’re suggesting would involve refs making judgments as to what would have happened under alternative scenarios, which is probably not a good idea.

How do coaches coach these things? Do they instruct players to commit rules violations and take the penalties in such cases? (In the cases of late game fouls in basketball they obviously do.)

Some rules violations are part of the game. In football, downing a punt is technically a penalty - illegal touch by the kicking team. No one considers that unsportsmanlike; it’s just part of the game. Teams take delay of game penalties near the end of the game to run down the clock to the last second when a 5 yard penalty doesn’t mean much.

I can’t think of a time in baseball when you violate the rules and expect to get caught on purpose. Pitchers intentionally scuff new baseballs which is probably a technical violation of the rules but everyone accepts that as long as it’s not egregious.

In basketball players will often give a foul when an opponent is driving to the basket unobstructed. At the end of the game teams will foul rather than let an opponent use up the clock, and they take advantage of how many fouls they have left to give. Players are often put in just to foul since they aren’t key players.

You have to look at the context to see what is generally accepted as part of the game.

I’m taking the OP to mean rules with an enforced in-game penalty. Right? Like loss of down, or 10 yards, half the distance to the goal, etc. We’re not talking about breaking rules like “No eye-gouging.” where you get suspended or fined.

If this is what we’re talking about, then I say mostly no. The rules and penalties are part of the game. Sometimes risking a holding penalty is better than letting your quarterback get smoked, or risking that pass interference call is better than allowing a touchdown. I think judging what to do and weighing (sp?) the options is just part of the game. However, if it’s something egregious, like clawing at someone’s facemask on purpose…yeah, that’s poor sportmanship and you are a terrible person and should be so very ashamed.

Huh? Enforcers are usually there to protect most of the other players from getting hit or attacked. (Basically they’re bodyguards) You’re thinking of pests.

Fouls in basketball are unsportsmanship. Oh excuse me, did my elbow just hit your eye? Manute Bol nearly took guys heads off with those damn elbows and charges. That guy was so dirty.

I’m not a big sports follower, but my understanding is that the sports governing bodies are trying to close the gap - Association Football has the concept of a professional foul and the Gridiron codes have the concept of an egregiously unfair act, where a foul is punished more severely (eg automatic red card) if it denies the opposition an obvious scoring opportunity.

So committing a foul with 30 seconds by grabbing a players’ arm is bad sportsmanship? That’s ridiculous. It’s possible in every sport to go beyond the pale but why single out basketball and why choose the most egregious of fouls?

Yes, I came in to mention this. It’s not uncommon for a situation to arise whereby a defender believes his only option is to commit a foul in order to prevent a goalscoring opportunity. In addition to the normal penalty for this (a direct free-kick to the attacking team, or a penalty kick if the offence took place in the 18-yard box), the offending player is sent-off (i.e. permanently ejected from the game), this also entails automatic suspension from the next 1-3 games. This system seems to work fairly well. I must admit I find it hard to adjust from that, which I grew up with, to basketball (where deliberate fouls are a key part of the strategy in the final few seconds of the game).

2010 World Cup. Uruguay v Ghana.

Similarly in Rugby if you *intentionally *commit a minor offence that would normally draw a scrummage, you get a penalty against you instead; and if you deliberately commit an offence that in the referee’s opinion prevents a probable try - not necessarily a sure one - then he can award a penalty try; that’s the same point award as an actual try, with the conversion (PAT) kick awarded directly in front of the posts. Meanwhile, for persistent offending by a team the referee can yellow-card a player even if that particular player is not the repeat offender, meaning his side have to play the next 10 minutes without him.

In case you don’t get the reference, here is the video.
It’s already stoppage time in overtime, the last play before penalty kick shootout.
The Ghana player heads the ball towards the goal and Suarez swats the ball away (the guy infront of him tried to and failed). Red card and penalty kick. Ghana misses and loses the shootout.
There isn’t a single player who would not have done the same.

If you’re not physically damaging the opponent, then do it and take the consequences.

And that Ghana/Uruguay game result was very controversial. In fact, first I heard of it was a friend of my son’s, who was extremely angry. “Uruguay cheated,” he said (this is a grad student speaking, to put it in perspective).

It’s not cheating. The penalties, and the cost of committing them, are known. In the case of the penalty kick, all he had to do was make it, which will happen a majority of the time. The player took an absolute certainty and reduced it to a high probability that in the end worked out for his team. He couldn’t have anticipated a miss.

Is it poor sportsmanship to intentionally walk a slugger to get to a weak hitter with the game on the line? How about intentional fouls in basketball at the end of the game? How about running out of the end zone to take an advantageous intentional safety? If someone is willing to pay the price to gain a potential advantage, that’s part of the game. I’ve said since last year’s AFC Championship Game that Champ Bailey should have just taken Torrey Smith down when he got torched. That wouldn’t have been poor sportsmanship, just basic strategy, and the benefits would have far outweighed the costs.

In snooker there’s the “miss” rule which means that if your adjudged not to have made the best attempt at hitting one of the balls your meant to have hit, your opponent gets the points for a foul and can make you replay the shot. It also seems to be that in snooker that even any minor breaches in sportsmanship are massively frowned upon. For example you can be penalized for conceding a frame too early.

Oh, I’m not disagreeing with you at all; I concur with your opinion. Just pointing out that many people did find what the Uruguay player did to be cheating. In fact, that was the first incident I thought of when I saw the thread title.

The 1982 West Germany-Austria group game is another example. Though that seemed downright fixing.

In 1978, Mario Kempes did the same thingin the Argentina-Poland match. He only got a yellow card (the rules were like that then) and Fillol caught the penalty kick.

Suárez’s hand was more famous because more people watched the match, but, as I said, it’s not that an uncommon play. If you’ve played football, you’ve done or seen it done

The International Board could institute a rule similar to the try-penalty, but it’s not like it happens every 5 matches-