Posts Tagged ‘character’

Cincinnati-Xavier free-for-all: criminal players, clueless coaches, token penalties

December 13, 2011

 

Sports rivalries are, well, competitive. The closer the rivals the more intense the competition. USC-UCLA, Duke-Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Alabama-Auburn. The winner is said to get “bragging rights.”

The basketball rivalry between two schools that are only four miles apart, the universities of Cincinnati and Xavier, is hot. Called “the Crosstown Shootout,” it has been played 79 times since it started in 1928 between the two city schools. But maybe no more.

Saturday’s game ended in an ugly brawl when Xavier point guard and All-America, Tu Holloway, taunted the Cincinnati bench with nine seconds left and Xavier blowing out Cincinnati, 76-53. Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates sucker-punched XU center Kenny Frease in the face, just below the left eye. Frease went down and Cincinnati center Cheikh Mbodj then kicked Frease in the head. Then everyone from both teams joined in.

Holloway revealed his thuggish character as he explained himself at a post-game press conference:

“That’s what you’re going to see from Xavier and Cincinnati. We got disrespected a little bit before the game, guys calling us out. We’re a tougher team. We’re grown men over here. We got a whole bunch of gangstas in the locker room, not thugs but tough guys on the court. We went out there and zipped ’em up (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.

__________

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

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.

 

Golfer Brian Davis is a golf runner-up but an ethics champion

April 19, 2010

Sport builds character. So we say, and we stick to the idea even as our favorite slugger takes illegal performance-enhancing drugs and lies about it, and our favorite football coach grins while his players taunt an outmatched opponent. But there are people of character in sport. Today’s ethical sportsman is English golfer Brian Davis, who called a two-stroke penalty on himself that ended his chance to win the Verizon-Heritage golf tournament. Davis’s violation was to barely—imperceptibly to anyone else—nudge a reed that overhung his ball in a sandy hazard. Davis finished second, and earned $411,000 less than Jim Furyk, the winner. There’s an excellent report of the incident in The New York Times.

Golfers tend to downplay their ethical behavior, shrugging it off as part of the game. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were part of all games!