What is Gracious Professionalism, anyway?

According to USfirst.org, the FIRST(TM) core value of gracious professionalism is a way of working together and competing against each other in a way in which we celebrate everyone’s contribution.  Many people talk about gracious professionalism as if it is the same as sportmanship (you know–congratulate the winner, don’t pout over losing, don’t gloat over winning), but allow me to illustrate to you in a story (a sports story actually) how it is so much more.

It is documented here:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/mrloganrhoades/player-ties-his-opponents-shoe-sportsmanship

It’s a soccer story in which the keeper realized his shoelace had come undone. Wearing bulky gloves, he could not tie them. As he tried in vain to get the referee’s attention, the opposing team’s striker came up to him. And while it may have been easy at this point to take the ball and score a goal, he instead bent down and tied his opponents shoe.  Because the keeper held the ball longer than 6 seconds, the referee called a penalty and awarded an indirect free kick. Being perhaps the greatest soccer team of all time, the opponents booted the ball out of play instead of effectively taking a free goal.  The crowd went crazy with admiration. The game ended in a tie.

The striker showed gracious professionalism by tying the goalie’s shoe.   The opposing team showed gracious professionalism by not taking advantage of the resulting free kick penalty.   It was a win-win.  They all did the right thing, for no personal gain, and their opponents rewarded them by also doing the right thing. The crowd rewarded them by cheering wildly. If there was a FIRST(TM) team around, they were probably creating a home-grown gracious professionalism award for the soccer players.

What examples of gracious professionalism have you seen in your dealings with FIRST(TM) robotics teams?   Last year we were encouraged to share parts and tools on competition day. We were impressed when some teams came around and gave us a “clean workpit award.” We were grateful for the Girls of Steel and how they still were so helpful to us as a pseudo-rookie team.  How can we as a team embody this core value?  What can we do internally to help the new members over the learning curve?  How will gracious professionalism make us a stronger, smarter team? Lets look for examples, document them, and be the gracious professional ambassadors for the Pittsburgh Region.

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