Monday, May 5, 2008

Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship...you never hear about it unless it is unsportsmanlike conduct. In triathlon, this ranges the gamete from any number of fouls in the water such as deliberately pulling, holding or hitting someone, on the bike generally drafting or blocking, on the run it is mostly blocking at an aid station or at the finish line crossing the line with your entire family portrait.

Let's talk about good sportsmanship. Like yesterday in St. Croix when Simon Lessing accidentally knocked the goggles off of Faris al Sutan and then apologized to his face when Simon was passed by Faris on the bike. Cheers to you Simon for being classy! Accidents happen in the water, we all know this. To apologize for an accident shows world class sportsmanship in my opinion.

In the 2001 St. Croix 1/2 Ironman (70.3 didn't exist yet), one of the races of my life, I found myself running shoulder to shoulder with Natasha Badmann on my first loop of the run and her second loop. At the first aid station I told her to go first. "Ladies first!" and I smiled. At the next aid station I said, "You're racing pro. Go first!" Later, at the final aid station Natasha and I would go through together she grabbed my arm, pulled me through the station and said, "You go first now!" We were both almost laughing. As I hit my turn around and she the one mile to go marker, Natasha turned to me and said, "You go make a good fight!" and pointed toward my second loop. I did and qualified for Ironman Canada.

Later that night at the awards, she told me that she appreciated that an age group male could let a female pro go first through aid stations when I was right there and had a legitimate claim on the space myself. I appreciate her acknowledging that I was trying to give her space to race as hard as she needed and I'll never forget her waiting at the finish (or at least leaving when I was coming in) and giving me a hug of thanks with a handshake from Tony.

I want to share this article from USAToday.com and hope that it inspires you to be a great sport now that the triathlon season is officially off and running with St. Anthony's last week, Wildflower and St. Croix this past week. This sport is great with some good sportsmen and women; imagine what it could be if racers had a mind on others as well. BTW - way to go Bree Wee in St. Croix.


Sportsmanship on display in college softball game (From USAToday.com)

The Western Oregon softball team has turned its focus back to competition after a topsy-turvy week that began with a singular act of sportsmanship that has attracted national attention.
The Wolves, who play in Division II, opened a three-game showdown with Seattle on Thursday as they go after their first Great Northwest Athletic Conference title. Western Oregon has a shot at that crown in part because of a unique victory vs. Central Washington last Saturday.
In the second game of a doubleheader, WOU's Sara Tucholsky slammed what appeared to be a three-run homer over the centerfield fence, the senior's first in either high school or college. But Tucholsky wrenched her knee at first base and collapsed.

Umpires ruled that a pinch-runner could replace Tucholsky, but she would be credited with a single and only two runs would count. After being assured there was no rule against it, Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace carried Tucholsky around the bases, completing her homer and adding a run to a 4-2 loss that eliminated the Wildcats from postseason.

As word of the game spread, Tucholsky and Holtman have been featured on national television and radio, and written about in newspapers across the country. "It has been magical and crazy at the same time," Tucholsky said Thursday. "I'm surprised at how many people have paid attention to this and how far the story has gone. But there are so many negative images of athletes now. Here is one with a positive image." Holtman, who had the idea to assist Tucholsky, has also been caught off guard by the ripples.

"At the time, we never thought it would be that big a deal. It just seemed like something anyone would have done," Holtman said. "I've probably had 50 e-mails and text messages from people I've never met, thanking me. It's really cool that people have responded to this so positively."
Not all the responses have been pleasant. One person labeled Holtman a selfish player who did not consider her teammates. Tucholsky received an e-mail criticizing women's lack of competitive spirit.

"That really bothered me," said Tucholsky, who fears she has a torn ligament that will end her career. "We are very definitely competitive, but this was a situation were sportsmanship overrode our competitiveness." Wolves' coach Pam Knox has tried to prepare her team for its championship push while putting Saturday's game in perspective. "When it happened I knew it was the best moment in my coaching career," she said. "I started calling my friends and family and they cried when I told them the story. So I knew this was something bigger than just me being emotional. "Some people are trying to say this is something men would never have done. I think that's an unfair statement. You would hope guys would have the character to do the right thing at the right time."

Knox gives Tucholsky major credit for serving as the lightning rod for all the reporters (she was up at 2:30 a.m. Thursday for a TV interview), allowing her teammates to focus on the Seattle series. "I'm from a small town, and I'm actually pretty shy, so all this is strange to me," Tucholsky said. "But we have some big games to play. I don't want all this to distract from what our team is trying to do."

2 comments:

  1. INCREDIBLE!

    Makes me happy to think of all the GOOD stuff in the world. As always, thanks for sharing Bob!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I saw that pic too and thought it was SOOO great..amazing and very impressive. Thanks for sharing & reminding us! Jen H.

    ReplyDelete