British Fair Play

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The Concept of ‘British Fair Play’ is fixed in the British psyche from an early age. It is not always adhered to, but people know what it means. It often makes itself clear when a crowd support a smaller man in a fight – or a smaller country in the Balancing of Power. That we British had an Empire, did not man that we acted unfairly. Yet the concept does not mean ‘losing’ either; rather it means to fight as hard as you can and doing your duty. It incorporates ‘knowing your place’ and ‘manners’ within a code of behaviour that rewards achievement and punishes cowardice, cheating or queue-barging.  It allows movement in within the social hierarchy, if it is earned. The concept stretches to the incorporation of foreigners within British society – provided that they ‘play by the rules’, which means speaking behaving and dressing like locals, being patriotic, appreciating our history and culture. It requires people to be ‘acceptable’ in order to be ‘accepted’. It explains how Foreign soldiers fought, and still fight, for Britain, alongside Brits. It incorporates chivalry and decency.

Fair Play incorporates the idea that win, lose or draw, both sides can walk off the pitch with their dignity preserved and their mutual respect enhanced – it requires both to try their best.
The game of Conkers, often played by schoolboys, illustrates this concept, with each player of whatever age and build taking it in turns to strike his opponents conker to pieces, thereby rising within the school as a victor and receiving praise and adulation. Win or lose, it is traditional to shake hands at the end.

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British Fair Play
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