To be successful in any of the control classes requires a high degree of skill and a lot of dedication, and that is certainly true for combat. But combat is slightly different from the other 3 classes because it has a much more aggressive side to its nature. The pilots are attacking or defending, chasing all over the sky, and sometimes crashing into each other or the floor. It’s this aggressive part of combat that perhaps tends to attract a certain type of person that is prepared to push the boundaries in an effort to win. It is in F2D combat that we can most easily see some stark differences in attitudes as to what some view as good sporting behaviour, and what others would say is poor sportsmanship or even downright cheating!
So, at one end of the spectrum we have pilots that believe combat should be an enjoyable competition with friendly, sporting, long lasting bouts, which are good fun and highly skilful. Just two people having a lot of fun in a friendly and good sporting way.
At the opposite end of this spectrum we have people who see combat more as a boxing match but with models. Two pilots who will dogfight to the death, each determined to win and be the victor.
What is a good sportsman?
Even this simple term can be seen in different ways.
We often hear the term “he is a good sport” or “that is highly sporting of him” which tends to indicate that this particular person has a high standard of morals and is very fair to his opponent, and would even help his opponent if necessary. So to some people, a “good sportsman” is someone who tries to be fair at all times.
But then we also hear the term “that is sportsmanship” when someone tries to deliberately get their opponent penalised or put them off in some way. We often see top footballers deliberately diving in the penalty area. Is this cheating? Or is it sportsmanship? In formula one racing we see drivers deliberately going slowly to hold up an opponent from a rival team. Is this cheating or sportsmanship? A golfer coughs as his opponent putts - is this unfair or just sportsmanship?
Perhaps what some people would call “sportsmanship” others would call “unsporting”, or even cheating.
To be the best in any sport is always going to be difficult, so to most people, a top sportsman is a person that will try extremely hard to win and will push everything to the limit to achieve that win. That includes training hard, practicing hard, perfecting and improving all equipment, and also making sure that they understand and get the very most out of all the rules. I suspect that most of our sporting greats are like this, but I am not so sure that trying extremely hard to win goes hand in hand with always being “a very good sport”.