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England

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fair play...

enland01Fair Play, as in the Marylebone Cricket Club's 'Laws of Cricket', the Queensberry Rules (boxing), the Cambridge Rules (soccer), and the exploits of Robin Hood (folk-lore).

Scotland has its Rob Roy and Switzerland its Wilhelm Tell. In England it is Robin Hood, who represents 'fair play' as the means by which to bring down tyrants. It is a tradition that has persisted through the ages, from Normans to Napoleons, Nazis, Iraqis, and Argentine Junta - all meet their match when confronted with English derring-do.

Fair play extends to social codes - politeness, small talk, understatement, traditions, sense of humour, 'the correct way to behave' - all manifestations of time-honoured English fair play. To the outsider, the curious aspect of English fair play, of abiding to the rules of the game and all that those codes of behaviour imply, is that the rules seem to have always originated in… England.

'Fair play' first appeared in Shakespeare's King John. It was used to advocate courteous relationship between adversaries. Just as today as the English notion of fair play combines moral ethics and good sportsmanship.

"According to the fair play of the world, Let me have audience" Act 5, sc 2