Everything I know about good Gamesmanship, I learned from my older brother. He now has kids, and I tried playing a board game with my nephew, and niece, with help from our Dad, now Grandad.
Seriously, from my brother, I learned what it means to play fairly, to know the rules, to play by the rules, and to be ok with either winning or losing — as long as you were playing fair, and acting fair, whatever the outcome.
I had to report to my brother that my young nephew had disappointed both Grandad and myself by being a really bad sport after not-winning the third of three games he had actually won. Everyone, especially young ones, likes to win. No one, especially young ones, likes to lose.
But I had to tell my brother and his wife, soon after, that my nephew had up-ended the game board because he was upset that he had lost. My brother, as his father, was especially upset, being the person that taught me gamesmanship in the first place, 40 years ago, and had believed in it for at least that long. My nephew’s mother was equally upset. Except, my brother sounded upset on more than a fatherly, parentally level — he was incredibly not pleased on the level he was upset when he was six and I was three, when I wasn’t playing games level and fair and reasonable, and gracious in loss as well as win.
This is an incredibly important lesson. I hated to have to be a part of imparting it, but I realized all of this even as I ratted my nephew out to his parents, my sister-in-law and my big brother, being the guy who taught me that gamesmanship was important and, in a big way, moral. Morality is the big thing to teach.
So: Gamesmanship is the big thing that lets us still happily play games to this day, even with every Striving effort to best the other; with no hard feelings – and with all admiration – if the other guy achieves.