Unfortunately, good sportsmanship seems to be a thing of the past. Today, we are more likely to see signs of a “win at all costs” mentality than we are good sportsmanship. So when I witness (or hear about) positive acts of good sportsmanship, I feel compelled to share them.
The first act is one I read a few weeks ago. It was the story of Spanish runner Ivan Hernandez Anaya and Kenyan runner Abel Mutai. Mutai had a comfortable lead at the end of their race. But Mutai misjudged the finish line and stopped running before he actually finished the race. Anaya caught up to Mutai, but when he realized Mutai had stopped short of the finish line, Anaya stayed behind Mutai until Mutai crossed the actual finish line first. Anaya knew Mutai would have won the race. Anaya did not deserve to win the race so he let Mutai win. This was a rare act of honesty and selflessness.
Just last night I attended a youth basketball game. Late in the game, it was obvious that players on one of the teams were trying hard to get one of their teammates to score a basket from the 3-point line. This was the last game of the season and this player had not made a 3-point shot all season. They kept getting him the ball so he could shoot from 3-point range. In one possession near the end of the game, the boy shot 3 or 4 times in a row and missed each. But his team worked very hard to get offensive rebounds so he could shoot again. Each time they got a rebound, they passed it out to this boy to shoot. After about 4 offensive rebounds in a row, the defense finally got a rebound. Rather than taking off down the court in the other direction, the player who grabbed the defensive rebound passed the ball to the same boy on the other team who had been trying to score. Players from both teams continued to give this boy the ball until, on his very last shot with just seconds left in the game, he made a 3-point basket. The crowd cheered and the boy was carried off the court even though his team lost the game. It was really an amazing sight.
Both of these acts of sportsmanship involved tremendous selflessness. Selflessness is an important quality for leaders. So what would you have done? Would you have waited and let Mutai take his rightful place as winner of the race? Would you have passed the ball to the other team so a player who hadn’t made a 3-point shot all season could make one? We need more selflessness, more sportsmanship, more integrity in our world and in our leaders. As leaders, it can begin with each of us.
Thanks for reading,