ACBL Bridge Beat #25: Good Sportsmanship
Long before the Sidney H. Lazard, Jr. Sportsmanship Award began in 1999 and the Goodwill Committee formed in 1955, the foundation was laid to show bridge as a game with a high opportunity to show good sportsmanship.
Bertram Lebhar noted in April 1944 edition of The Bulletin that since tournament bridge is an amateur sport, and the prizes are never of intrinsic value, players have the opportunity of ranking even higher than golfers, tennis players or other competitors in the matter of good sportsmanship.
He wrote, “Tournament bridge is one of the finest of all forms of amateur competition. It is a challenge to the mentality . . . a game played not only in the most congenial, but frequently the most lavish surroundings . . . a game intended for the matching of wits among ladies and gentlemen. Those who are talented enough to play tournament bridge with any degree of success, and even those skilled enough to play the game at all should foster a personal pride in the game itself, and the manner in which it is played. The desire to be considered a true sportsman should equal the desire to be regarded as a champion.”
Professionally known as Bert Lee, Lebhar had a national reputation as a sportscaster and later as a bridge player and administrator. In private life he owned radio and television stations in Florida. Perhaps his greatest achievements arose from his work as ACBL treasurer (1945-1947) and as a member of the Steering Committee. In the late 1940s, Lebhar was instrumental in ACBL modernization. He was perhaps the first man to visualize ACBL’s vast potential for expansion. His farsighted efforts were recognized when he was made ACBL Honorary Member in 1963. A founder of Greater New York B.A. and its first president in 1948, he donated the Lebhar Trophy to ACBL. Lebhar was named Life Master #61 in 1946 and was a two-time North American champion.