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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sportsmanship

This post is not totally being written as an excuse to talk about last night's Cavs-Nets game, although my brother OD and I went to the game in New Jersey and enjoyed immensely. After all, the Cavs outscored the Nets 28-13 in the third quarter on their way to destroying the Nets, 106-82, and we were rather impressed with the Izod Center, which is a rather nice - if empty - arena. No wonder they're moving to Brooklyn.

Sports are incredible not only for what they are, but for some of the things they teach us about life, such as: Hope. Fairness. Doing what's right.

In that vein, here are two rather amazing stories that I read this morning. The first (via the DailyFix) is about hope.
Harrison Hill kicked through the smoke of uncertainty, the soot of fear, finding the back of the net with a solid right foot on a spotless white ball.

He kicked the first goal, the only goal his Westmont College team would need, then he turned and ran.

He ran past the teammate who, at this moment, owned only the uniform on his back.

He ran past a teammate who had prepared for the game by searching Craigslist for a place to sleep.

He ran off the field, under the covered bench area, and into the arms of one who lost more than any of them.

In last week's Montecito fire, the home of Westmont Coach Dave Wolf burned to the ground.
The whole story is rather moving, and worth a read. The second, which I think is even more amazing, is about doing what's right, or going above and beyond to make good.

J.P. Hayes can sleep at night, knowing he did the right thing.

That doesn't mean the last few days haven't been difficult and it doesn't mean the coming months won't be a challenge.

They have been, and they will be.

But as a professional golfer, playing a sport that is self-policed - a sport in which integrity is as important as winning titles and cheating is practically non-existent - Hayes knows he did the right thing.

His sin?

Hayes inadvertently played a non-conforming golf ball - one not on the list approved for competition by the United States Golf Association - for one hole of a second-stage qualifier in McKinney, Texas.

The 43-year-old Appleton native disqualified himself from the second stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament last week. The first DQ of his career was especially harsh because it left him ineligible to play fulltime on the PGA Tour in 2009.

What's particularly amazing about what Hayes did is he didn't just call a penalty on himself, which is a two-stroke penalty; he did that, but then afterward realized that the penalty might be an even bigger one, thought about it, and called up the Tour.

Often in life, we're placed in difficult situations. One approach is to simply remove ourselves from the situation, and that has its place; but always, even when we are removing ourselves, it is important to do what is right, whatever the costs to ourselves are, however uncomfortable it might be for us. A former boss once said that I was "too honest" and that I should "lie more" or I'll be making things much more difficult for myself in the long run, and I had "too much potential" to "waste it" like that. I passed, noting that I'd rather take the harder, less successful route than sacrifice more important things such as integrity. It's more important to do what's right, period.

Speaking of what's right, the Cavs' game last night was awesome. In the third quarter, the Cavs started the period with a 12-0 run on four consecutive wide-open three-pointers, thanks to Lebron slashing his way toward the basket and drawing the Nets' D in with him. The Lebron block of Harris was impressive more in effort and skill in getting back so fast and so high than in the actual block; the Cavs had a few other more impressive blocks, actually. It's also impressive to see the Cavs' bench (or starters, when the bench is in) so continually into the game - they're all pumped, standing a lot, rushing out to greet the players as they come back for a timeout, etc. I don't remember seeing that in previous years so much other than in the playoffs. That should bode well for them this season, in case 9-2 [with close losses at Boston and New Orleans] wasn't enough to show that.

Other notes: Mo Williams is a really good ballplayer. Daniel Gibson and Delonte West are decent, and being able to consistently have two of those three on the court is really hard for other teams. The frontcourt rotation is solid. J.J. Hickson looks like he'll be pretty good. The team as a whole moves really well on defense, makes a lot of nice plays. They're a much better team than last year, so they're a legitimate title contender.

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