Japan lost a heartbreaker game in its World Cup match with Belgium earlier this week.
Normally that would be the focus when talking about the game afterwards. But because of the actions of the Japanese team, and its fans, that was not the case.
Instead, Japan showed the world what it means to be a good loser.
The photo above is a picture of the Japanese locker room after the loss. It is spotless, having been cleaned by the players themselves. In addition to the thorough cleaning, the team left a note, written in Russian, that said ‘thank you’.
And apparently while the team was hard at work cleaning the locker room, the Japanese fans were busy cleaning the stadium where they had just witnessed their beloved team’s defeat. And it was not just this game that the fans cleaned up after, they did the same thing for every game they played.
And the team, perhaps to show its appreciation of the fans, bowed to them at the end of the Belgium game.
For a sport whose fans sometimes get a little carried away and it players get a little feisty, it was great to see another option.
One where the team shows respect for its fellow team members, to its fans, to its rivals, and to its hosts. And the fans showed respect for its team, and its fellow fans.
My personal congratulations to Team Japan, and it legion of fans.
Let’s hope other teams and their fans learn from the Japanese approach. And you don’t even have to lose to show the kind of respect Team Japan showed for its hosts, fans, Russia, its competitors, and the game.
P.S. While I hoped Japan would go further, my hope now if for Team England to go all the way.