Posts Tagged ‘sportsmanship’

Sportsmanship at the Olympic women’s soccer final: smiles and hugs all around

August 11, 2012

 

Hope Solo, Team USA’s goalkeeper, saved shot after shot on goal to preserve the miniscule USA lead in the Olympic women’s soccer gold medal match, won by the Americans, 2-1. As Abby Wambach, Team USA’s superstar, declared after the final whistle,Hope saved the day literally five times.”

In sports parlance we’d say that Solo broke the hearts of the Japanese team. But remarkably hearts weren’t broken. As far as the losing Japanese women were concerned, losing isn’t  like death, as the late great football coach, George Allen, famously said. And the Japanese are the defending World’s Champions, not losers. Both sides were joyful at having had the chance to play in the gold medal game.

The photo of three of the Japanese players smiling with their silver medals and embracing Hope Solo, with her gold, is the picture of sportsmanship, too rare in today’s big-money sports but refreshingly present in Olympic women’s soccer.

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Photo Copyright (c) 2012 Hope Solo

 

Trojan coach Lane Kiffin and quarterback Matt Barkley punctuate a new era of amateur football at USC

December 23, 2011

 

So who says big time college football is all about winning and money, and not about heart and sportsmanship? Check out the USC Trojans.

Yesterday Trojan junior quarterback Matt Barkley chose to play another year for the Trojans rather than grabbing a $20+ million payoff for entering the NFL draft, where he was a sure bet to be a top ten, or even a top five pick.

Explained Barkley,

“It is my dream to play quarterback in the NFL, and I intend to make that dream a reality. But I know in my heart that I have not finished my journey as a Trojan football player. The 2012 USC football team has some serious unfinished business to attend to, and I intend on being a part of that.”

Trojan coach Lane Kiffin was overjoyed at Barkley’s decision. And why not? It could well lead to a national championship for the loaded Trojans, and coach-of-the-year honors for Kiffin. But lest you think that Kiffin has only a selfish interest, look at what he said last week when Barkley’s blind-side protector, All American tackle Matt Kalil, announced his decision to forego his senior year for the NFL:

“We fully support his decision and we told him so. He is ready for the NFL. He will be a very high draft pick and will have a long, successful career. We will miss him next year, but will cheer him on (more…)

LSU Tigers Coach Les Miles gets a mythical Chip Kelly Award* for suspending three stars for the big game with Auburn

October 21, 2011

Sport is supposed to build character, but college sport often puts winning above sportsmanship or ethics. So it’s encouraging to see a big-time coach put character first. It’s especially encouraging when the stakes are huge.

LSU’s Tigers are undefeated at 7-0, and ranked #1 in the nation. Tomorrow they play improving and dangerous Auburn. LSU needs a win to preserve their path to the national championship.

LSU’s chances dropped a notch Wednesday when Coach Les Miles suspended three key players, reportedly for drug violations. The three included two considered the Tigers’ most valuable: cornerback and Heisman Trophy contender Tyrann Mathieu (six forced turnovers, including two returned for touchdowns), and star running back Spencer Ware (512 yards and six touchdowns). Defensive back Tharoid Simon (one interception and 29 tackles) was also suspended. The suspensions are for at least one game; if Miles extends them it could be devastating to the Tigers since their next game is at Alabama, ranked #2 in the nation.

Miles has been criticized for failing to control his players, but he deserves a lot of credit for putting character above winning. I don’t know whether to root for LSU to win to show that ethics pays off; or to root for them to lose to demonstrate just how much coach Miles put at risk to enforce LSU’s rules of behavior.

In any case, Coach Miles gets a Chip Kelly Award for putting character above winning.

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*Chip Kelly, Oregon Ducks football coach, suspended his star running back for poor sportsmanship right after Kelly’s first game as Ducks coach

Hooray for the USA women’s soccer team: winning with grace and losing with grace

July 18, 2011

The USA women’s soccer lost to Japan in the World Cup final on penalty kicks, but what a show they put on! It really seemed like watching a game, complete with sportsmanship and good feelings all around. No diving, no faking injuries, lots of smiles, and a helping hand whenever an opposing player was knocked down.

They played with incredible energy, outplayed the Japanese except when it came to the important area of getting the ball into the net, and were as gracious in losing as they had been earlier in winning. Megan Rapinoe’s speed and passing, Hope Solo’s goal-keeping, and Alex Morgan’s shooting, bode well for next year’s Olympics.

We hated to lose on a penalty shootout, but we were glad enough to get by Brazil on PKs, so maybe we shouldn’t complain. And if the USA team had to lose, who better to lose to than Japan. See you next year in London.

Rory McIlroy runs away with U.S. Open, gives ethics fans a new hero to pull for

June 19, 2011

Sports fans who try to live an ethical life are often pulled in two directions by their favorites. What Dodger fan could, with a clear conscience, pull for drug-cheat Manny Ramirez to hit one out of the park? And what Redskins fan could root for Albert Haynesworth to sack the opposing quarterback, after the 300-pound tackle stomped on an opposing player’s face with his football cleats.? And what fans of the Vancouver Canucks or L.A. Lakers could go on feeling good rooting for their teams after ugly displays of pure brutality?

Well, all of us do, even though we know we’re rooting for deeply flawed individuals.

But then a new hero comes along with a dazzling smile, so apparently pure and strong of character that we fall in love again. So it is with Rory McIlroy, winner today of golf’s U.S. Open by an unheard of eight strokes with a record low Open score of 268. At 22, McIlroy is the youngest Open winner since the legendary Bobby Jones won in 1923 at age 21.

After earning praise here for an extraordinary display of grace and sportsmanship after his game collapsed in the last round of the Masters—as it had in last year’s British Open—McIlroy exorcised his inner demons and (more…)

Wow! Rory McIlroy eagles to go 10 under at U.S. Open. Ethical fans cheer extra loud after letdowns from Canucks, Lakers, and Buckeyes

June 17, 2011

Sport is often depressing. We were depressed Monday when Vancouverites rioted after their thuggish Canucks lost the National Hockey League championship to the Boston Bruins. We were depressed last month when the Los Angeles Lakers degenerated into dirty play as they were swept in four games by the Dallas Mavericks. And we were depressed by the news that Ohio State’s All-American quarterback Terrelle Pryor and super coach Jim Tressel were long-time cheaters.

But sport is more often elevating, as when tennis star Andy Roddick corrected an umpire’s wrong call to his own disadvantage and it wound up costing him a championship, or when 22-year old Rory McIlroy gave  everybody a lesson in  grace and sportsmanship after his game totally disintegrated as he was on the verge of claiming one of golf’s major prizes, the Masters Green Jacket.

So I was delighted to read in this morning’s paper that McIlroy had a three stroke lead after the first round of golfdom’s #1 prize, the 111th U.S. Open. As I sat down to blog about this exemplar of ethics in sport, Google popped up with this breaking news from Reuters that McIlroy had holed out his approach shot on the par-four eighth hole for a rare eagle to go 10 under par, the earliest any player had ever reached 10-under in the Open. Ethics fans hope he keeps it up this time.

An inspiring lesson in grace, sportsmanship, and accountability from Masters loser Rory McIlroy

April 11, 2011

 

We usually look to success and experience for inspiration, but once in a rare while we can be inspired by failure and inexperience. If character is sometimes defined by how we react to failure, then 21-year old Rory McIlroy is an inspiration, a man of real character.

McIlroy was on the verge of claiming one of sport’s greatest awards, the green jacket and the $1,440,000 that goes to the winner of golf’s Masters tournament. He had a four-stroke lead going into the last round, and a one-stroke lead with nine holes to play. Then disaster: a triple-bogey 7 on 10, a bogey 5 on 11, and a double-bogey 5 on 12 and McIlroy was out of contention, finishing with a score of 80 and a tie for 15th place.

Walking off the 18th green he was met by a sportscaster with a microphone. McIlroy didn’t run from the mike.

CBS reporter Peter Kostis asked what happened. McIlroy didn’t whine, didn’t complain, didn’t offer an excuse.

“I thought I hung in pretty well in the front nine, I was leading the tournament going into the back nine. Just hit a poor tee shot on 10 and I just sort of unraveled from there. Just sort of lost it 10, 11, 12, and couldn’t really get it back. It’s one of those things, I’m very disappointed at the minute and I’m sure I will be for the next few days, but I’ll get over it. I’ve got to take the positives, and the positives are I led this golf tournament for 63 holes. I’ll have plenty more chances, I know that. It’s very disappointing what happened today and hopefully it will build a little bit of character in me as well.”

McIlroy already has more than a little bit of character.

 

Oregon coach Chip Kelly is a winner on the football field, a bigger winner in the ethics field

March 14, 2010

We’ve written about our favorite football coach, Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks. Kelly has been a paragon of coaching in his first-year on the job, leading the Ducks last year to a 10-3 record and their first Pac 10 championship since 1995. He did this while insisting on good citizenship from his players, even suspending his top running back for nine games for sucker punching an opposing player after the Ducks’ opening game loss.

Duck fans were hopeful of an even better 2010, with most of last year’s stars returning, led by Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, and running back LaMichael James, who rushed for 1546 yards as a freshman last year. This could be the Ducks’ chance at a national championship, even.

Not so much, anymore. Kelly suspended James, another of the team’s offensive stars, and top placekicker Rob Beard, both of whom pled guilty to misdemeanor physical harassment. They’ll both sit out at least next season’s opening game, with the proviso that they can play after that if they adhere to the guidelines Kelly puts forward.

But the big deal was the suspension of Masoli for the entire 2010 season (more…)


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