Posted by: jility | February 17, 2014

Poor Sports in Sports

In life there are and will always be poor losers and poor winners. It is just a sad fact. I am not sure which one is more irritating really, but they are both annoying. In agility, we all come across them. Win or lose, they walk around like they are cock of the walk. What is it about their personality that makes them behave so badly? Is it a genetic character flaw, a learned behavior, insecurity or a small d!c#?

You all know those people. When they win, they brag to all and when they lose, they always have an excuse and make sure everyone hears it, especially the winner. They know how to suck the joy out of anyone who beats them. They know how to pound those they beat into the ground. They shoot off their mouths like Mohamed Ali before a run. They NEED that limelight and hate anyone who takes it from them.


Sir Cussalot is one of the most gracious winners or losers I know. He would never go up to anyone and give an “IN YOUR FACE!” move to those he beats or make excuses to those who beat him. I SOOO admire him for that! He is very secure in who he is. I am never in a position to be the winner so it is all foreign to me, but I watch Sir C week in and week out, take it like a man, no matter how it ends up.

The video below says it all!

This past weekend, my sister Lizzie and her husband Dana came to visit us. Although dog people, they have had no firsthand experience with agility. It was quite an experience to sit with them and hear their observations at their first ever agility trial. I loved it! They were in awe at the fun the dogs had (and most of the people), but the thing that hit me most was when somebody walked by with their Border collie after a bad run. All the way this person was telling the dog that he was terrible and didn’t deserve anything for that run. My sister sat there listening. Then she got tears in her eyes. She had seen the run and thought the dog was amazing. She couldn’t believe that anyone would talk so poorly to their dog that had just tried his heart out. She turned to me and said, “Why is that person so mean to that poor dog? Why do they blame the dog? Isn’t it their job to train the dog?” Out of the mouths…

I also heard a woman berating her dog this weekend for his lackluster run. The dog gave it all he had to give but she didn’t think it was enough. I listened as she walked by our tent and all the way down the lane telling her dog he was terrible and he would NOT be getting any treats. I wanted to cry for that poor dog. Why don’t people understand that their dog messes up because of their training? I will go to my grave pondering that one! It is like blaming somebody for catching a cold or the flu! When our dogs go wrong, it is ALWAYS 100% OUR FAULT!!! People who say otherwise are foolish at best, and until they get it, their dog will never improve. When they say otherwise in front of others, don’t they know how ridiculously ignorant they sound?

My dog has terrible fear of the teeter. I tease her and tell her she is a big baby, but we have fun with it. I adore my Pankies. No matter what she does in the ring, I take full responsibility. If she runs slower than usual, as was the case this weekend, I know I am at fault. If she goes off course or has a refusal, I know it is my fault either as her handler or her trainer. She is not my tool to an end. She is my friend and I adore her and she deserves my respect, love and responsible training. It is my job to teach her that the teeter is as much fun as her weavins.

There are many forms of poor sportsmanship from the “IN YOUR FACE” winning move to “THE TIMER FAILED! NO WAY YOUR DOG IS THAT FAST” to “YOU ARE NOT GETTING ANY TREATS FOR THAT RUN!” to “THE ONLY REASON YOU BEAT US IS…” to…

The next time you hear some (insert my new favorite word. My friends know what it is) telling their dog they won’t get any treats for their poor performance, remind them that they are responsible for the dog’s training and it is NOT that poor dog’s fault that they SUCK as a trainer!


Helen Grinnell King


  1. “I would have totally beat you if it hadn’t been for the 6 knocked bars, blown contact, teeter flyoff and that off course”. Totally beat you.” <—–this one always cracked me up when I heard it.

  2. Totally the reason why I stopped doing the Regionals up in Washington. After getting yelled at by the man of a Sheltie couple for my puppy’s actions one year and then hearing handler after handler berate their dogs the following year. And then having a friend basically have what I’d call an out of body experience where she was yelling at her dog and then yelling at me because I told her it was her fault I decided that that was enough.

    Friends, we have our priorities scrambled…..

  3. I’ve been known to tell people “Your dog did great! No cookies for YOU though!”. I’ve even been known to say “Good dog! You went right where she TOLD you to go!” or “the dog Qd but you didn’t!”. If my dog does what I tell her to do and I am the one who is wrong, we celebrate HER Q even if the judge had chosen a slightly different course from ours.

  4. I find that some agility venues are much more likely to see the kind of behavior you describe than others. My club now recommends that our members who are just beginning to compete start with CPE trials because the runs are so much fun and the other competitors are so supportive of newbies. We also advise them to avoid a certain kennel club’s trials for a while because the intense, stressful atmosphere and the poor sportsmanship are so discouraging.

  5. One of the reasons dog events get me down is because it breaks my heart when I see owners blaming their dog. I have had to fight back tears and sit on my hands. There have been many times I have wanted kick someone’s ass. Don’t they realize their dogs have feelings? Dogs have emotions, it’s been proven. Maybe some, more than others, but they have them. Ego and modus operandi. Everyone has this, it’s what drives people. You are a winner when you have a good time, a loser when you don’t. We all want acceptance, certainly. But the motive to how they get acceptance isn’t always right and is at the expense of the dog. I often think these people don’t accept themselves for who they are, and a little self examination might help.

  6. Helen, I think you nailed it when you said your husband is very secure in who he is. Often people act big when they feel small and sadly it gets shoved in all our faces.

  7. Makes me sad all the time to see a handler walk the dog off the course in shame when they did a great job of not communicating info to their poor dog that tried so darn hard to get it right! Maybe someday, the dog can walk us off the course for not getting it right. We might learn from that.

  8. Any day I can run agility with my best friends is a good day no matter how any of us run. Shame on those that think anything different!!

  9. I cringe when I hear people say “we failed”. I hate that. Really? Well, it looked like your dog had a blast! This week-end I made some bone head moves in jumpers but I was so lucky to be able to be out there running my amazing dogs! Q or not – this sport is a blast! Winning (or Q’ing) isn’t everything… but it is fun!

  10. As usual, well said Helen.. I hope people think about this blog next time they come off the line. My daughter (she lives on the east coast) was visiting and asked if she could watch while I was doing some teeter training (along with Pankies, not one of my favorite obstacles). She said “they have no idea they are being trained, they think it is a big game of play”. One of the best compliments I have ever gotten… Yes it is hard at times, sometimes and I want to take the easy way out and blame the dog… But as god as my witness……… know the rest.

  11. I so agree, well said.

    BarbThe Global Warmers wrote:

  12. Beautifully said. I was at a trial last weekend and watched someone berate their amazing dog because she wasn’t perfect and didn’t Q. I looked up and saw some of the local spectators watching and listening. Luckily the dog wasn’t paying any attention. She no doubt has heard it all before and doesn’t know what it has to do with her. And she’s right. I has nothing to do with her. I’m so grateful that 90% of the folks that run agility are kind to their dogs. To those that aren’t, I have to say that dog training and agility isn’t the right sport for you. Stop now.

  13. Beautifully stated. I am so very tired of handlers taking this all so seriously. Have fun, enjoy playing agility with your dog, or stay home.

  14. I am thankful that in flyball, at least, the blame for a poor showing tends to go to a human teammate – early pass or late start or or or. Your post is one of the reasons I cannot seem to make time for competitive agility. Wading into the group of “we know it all people” and then dealing with the group of “it’s someone (dogs, equipment, judges, surface, whoever) elses fault”. I just don’t think I can do it. But I do have fun with my pups and we do enjoy the stories and the vidioes!!! Kudos to Sir C.

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