"What happens on the field stays on the field."
I'm always slightly nonplussed by this line. It seemed to be highly prevalent in both amateur and professional sport. There is a myth that someone can be a really good person when they are not playing sport but when they get on the field they get a bit of "White line fever." Even though this fever turns them into a highly competitive sociopath who has little empathy for injuries they may cause others and wants to win so badly they would sacrifice their own integrity for it, by diving, cheating or lying, we are expected to forget about that the moment the game finishes. I'm sorry but someone who quickly becomes a creature like that does not meet my criteria of a good person.
It is pretty easy to seem like a nice guy when you are having a good time in a bar and everything is going well, but that is not the measure of what sort of person you are. Integrity and character are not traits you get to have selectively. You either have them or you don't and if you do have them, you have them all the time. We can still be highly competitive without compromising our principles- think Adam Gilchrist walking when he knew he was out, John Landy stopping to help Ron Clarke get up and most recently Simon Clarke helping Richie Porte in the Giro d’Italia. Sadly this type of behaviour is so exceptional because it is so rare?
Sport is a stressor. People can't hide who they are in a tense game. For this reason it is the perfect time to make your judgements about people. People who try to make excuses for their team mates are missing the point. "He is a really nice guy off the field," is analogous to saying, "he is a nice guy when he isn't drunk," or, "he is a nice guy when he isn't abusing his wife!"
Obviously the last example is a more extreme version of what I am talking about. I certainly don't wish to trivialise domestic violence. What I want to point out is that unacceptable behaviour is ALWAYS unacceptable. That is what unacceptable means. When we make excuses like, it is ok on the sportsfield or when we are drunk, we are ignoring the fact that actually the perpetrator is fundamentally less of a person than someone not prone to such behaviour.
Imagine if this type of reasoning was acceptable in other areas of society. A soldier, police officer, teacher, firefighter, child protection officer, etc, whose friends describe him as a great bloke when not under stress, is not going to be any good at their job.
I have been honoured to know a lot of truly magnificent people. I have seen them in stressful situations (far more stressful than a game of sport) and seen how their character rises above it. For this reason I cannot look at anyone who behaves like a child or a sociopath on a sports field with any kind of tolerance or respect. If that is what you revert to when challenged, then that is who you really are in my eyes. So far from saying what happens on the field stays there, I believe what happens on the field defines you.