I am perhaps too much of a sports fan and I am willing to overlook some of the minor infractions that a few athletes have done. Most of them are done by the young who have more money to spend that they have had in their life and do stupid things. I am willing to forgive them their indiscretion of youth if they don’t hurt anybody else or a helpless animal. I am not that prone to forgive someone older who know better.
But once in a while, we read about things in sports that make us proud of the athletes who did something extraordinary. Here, copied from an Issue of Sports Illustrated are some of those examples.
A FEW YEARS AGO quarterback Nate Haasis lost an Illinois passing record but earned something far more valuable: Respect.
Haasis was a 17-year-old star at Southeast High in Springfield, Ill. With his team trailing Cahokia High by 16 points in the final game of his senior season, both teams’ coaches agreed to let Southeast score a touch down so that Haasis could break the Central State Eight Conference passing record. The deal was cut unbeknownst to Haasis, who then completed an uncontested 37-yard pass to finish with 5,006 career passing yards. But Haasis didn’t feel like a record holder. Three days later he wrote to the conference director and asked for the pass to be removed from the record books. His request was granted, and his gesture made national news. Today, Haasis remains in second place among Central State Eight career passers. “I kept thinking of the guy who had the record before me,” he said. “I mean, his teammates fought for every yard he got. And then I get mine this way? It just seemed wrong.”
For the past two seasons Cold Spring Harbor High and Roosevelt High of Long Island, N.Y., have met for the Nassau County Conference IV football championship. The makeup of each school could not be more different: The Cold Spring Harbor Seahawks come from a wealthy, predominantly white school district while the Roosevelt Rough Riders live in a working-class community of Blacks and Hispanics. Despite the on-field rivalry, the two schools bonded this summer after Roosevelt administrators eliminated its interscholastic sports program because of budget cuts. Facing a schedule without its rival, Cold Spring Harbor helped save Roosevelt’s sports program. Seahawks boosters donated money from concession sales, and players went to Roosevelt to pitch in with car washes.
Thanks largely to the Cold Spring Harbor efforts, Roosevelt raised more than $45, 000, and football was reinstated before the season began. The teams met on Sept. 15 with the Rough Riders pulling out a 7-0 win. But the score was a minor part of this story. “They’re a great bunch of kids and coaches,” said Seahawks co-captain Peter Ottaviano. “They definitely deserve to play.”
An act of sportsmanship can be small, as small as a mark in a patch of red clay. At the Rome Master tournament in 2005, Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco of Spain were vying for a spot in the quarterfinals. Roddick let 5-3 in the second set and had triple match point when Verdasco appeared to hit a double fault. The line judge called the ball out. But there was a problem: The ball was in.
I looked at it, and I couldn’t really tell,” Roddick said. “But then I looked again and it was in. I didn’t think it was anything extraordinary. The chair umpire would have done the same thing if he came down and looked (at the Mark in the clay) and said it was in, so I just saved him the trip.”
Roddick conceded the point, and the two played on. Verdasco saved two more match points, held serve and broke Roddick in the second set. The Spaniard eventually won 6-7, 7-6. 6-4. “I got praised unbelievably for that, and I didn’t really do anything out of the ordinary,” Roddick said at the 06 U.S. Open. “The mark was there. It’s not like I was feeling generous. It’s just the way it was.”
AT THE Nissan Irish Open in May, golfer Darren Clarke was forced to stop his third round at the K Club when heavy rain interrupted play. When the storm intervened, Clarke had just driven the ball into the rough on the 9th hole. He expected to have to ship the ball back onto the fairway-costing himself a shot-before going for the green.
But Clarke returned the next morning to find that his lie had improved overnight-so much that he could shoot directly for the green. (Rule officials said he was free to do just that.) “I could have put it onto the front of the green from where it was,” said Clarke. “But my conscience would not allow me to do it.”
Clark elected to do what he would have done had the storm not come and wedged out to the fairway. His action hurt his chances of winning-he would end up third in the tournament-but it won him the European Tour’s Shot of the Month trophy. Clarke put the trophy at auction on darrenclarke.com pledging the proceeds to breast cancer research. ( Clark’s wife lost her battle with breast cancer in August.) “Honesty is part and parcel of the game,” Clarke said. ‘I would not have acted any other way.”
Those are the kind of things I like to read, and what keeps me coming back to the sports I love so much.