High School Basketball Game Demonstrates Importance of Sportsmanship

February 20, 2009 04:14 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A moment of sportsmanship at a basketball game recalls other notable instances when winning took a back seat to doing the right thing.

Compassion Displayed at High School Basketball Game

On a Saturday night in February, high school basketball players and fans witnessed an incredible act of sportsmanship, according to the Associated Press. The DeKalb, Ill., high school basketball team was playing against Milwaukee Madison, the home team, and the two squads “were developing a friendly rivalry that spanned two states.”

But hours before the night game, tragedy struck the senior captain of Milwaukee Madison, Johntel Franklin. Franklin’s mother, Carlitha, was in remission after fighting cervical cancer for five years but that morning, she began hemorrhaging while her son was “taking his college ACT exam.” Later that afternoon, Franklin and some of his teammates were at the hospital when Carlitha was taken off life support and died at the age of 39.

"She was young and they were real close," said Milwaukee coach Aaron Womack Jr., who was also at the hospital. "He was very distraught and it happened so suddenly he didn't have time to grieve."

The game that night was almost canceled, but Franklin said it should go on. In the second quarter, Franklin arrived at the court, coming directly from the hospital. He said he wanted to play.

But placing him in the game without being on the starting roster carried the penalty of a technical foul. The game was close at that point and DeKalb coach Dave Rohlman refused to take the foul shots. The referees said the foul shots were required, and Rohlman finally asked for a volunteer.

Darius McNeal volunteered, and in an act of solidarity, he blatantly missed both foul shots as his coach requested. Milwaukee Madison went on to win the game 62-47.

"This is something our kids will hold for a lifetime," Rohlman said. "They may not remember our record 20 years from now, but they'll remember what happened in that gym that night."

Related Topic: Acts of sportsmanship

The 2008 Summer Olympics also revealed many instances of sportsmanship. During a qualifying race, Dara Torres alerted fellow swimmer Therese Alshammar of Sweden that she had a rip in her swimsuit, then asked the judges to hold the race so that Alshammar could change into a new suit. Blogcritics explained, “That may not seem like a huge deal, but in a race that's determined by tenths or even hundredths of seconds, and where the women are swimming in suits with very specifically engineered aerodynamics, it very well could have been a big deal.”

In the women’s air pistol event, Natalie Paderina from Russia took the silver while Georgian Nino Salukvadze took the bronze. Unlike other Russian and Georgian rivals, these two women, former teammates, weren’t name-calling. Instead, they embraced and together called for peace between their countries. Paderina explained, "We are really friends and don't get mixed up in political things. Sports is not politics."

During the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Michael Phelps gave up his place in the 400m medley relay to Ian Crocker. Crocker was disappointed with his freestyle relay and wanted a chance to redeem himself. The Americans won the gold and after the race, Crocker told reporters, “[Phelps] was one of the main reasons I had the opportunity to do that. He gave me a gift.”

During the running of the Fleet Indian stakes in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., leading jockey Edgar Prado sacrificed his chance of winning the race when competitor Javier Castellano’s horse, Precise Lady, broke the rein leaving the gate. Prado pulled his horse alongside Precise Lady and, using his whip, was able to lift the rein into Castellano’s waiting hand, all while riding at 40 miles an hour on a 1,000-pound horse.

Though he might have placed first, Prado said, “I think it was more important that nobody got hurt, you know? … I mean, there’s plenty of other races. A human being is more important.”

When Western Oregon University’s Sara Tucholsky hit the first and only homerun of her college career, she tore her knee ligament at first base and the umpire was ready to rule it a single. Then two players on the opposing team, Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace, carried her around the bases. Holtman explained, “She hit the ball over her fence. She's a senior; it's her last year. … I think anyone who knew that we could touch her would have offered to do it, just because it's the right thing to do. She was obviously in agony.”

ESPN gave Tucholsky, Holtman and Wallace an ESPY in 2008 for a “Best Moment” in sports.

In an equally magnanimous gesture, at the Washington state class 4A high school track meet, defending state champion Nicole Cochran was disqualified from a 3,200m race after allegedly running outside her lane. During the closing ceremony, both the gold and silver medalists, Andrea Nelson and Sarah Lord, one after the other, gave their medals to Cochran. Like Cochran, they believed that the judges were mistaken. More than a week later, Cochran’s gold medal was officially reinstated when video footage proved that another runner, not Cochran, had gone out of the lane.

Historical Context: The Landy-Clarke incident; First Olympic medal for sportsmanship

More than 50 years ago, another sports moment froze in time. Runners John Landy and Ron Clarke were competing in the 1956 Australian National Championships when Clarke was accidentally tripped by the pack. Landy jumped over the fallen runner, accidentally hitting him with his foot. He turned back to help Clarke, forfeiting his chance for a world record. Amazingly, Landy caught up with the other runners, 30 yards in front of him, and finished first. Harry Gordon, a journalist for Melbourne’s Sun, called the gesture “one of the finest actions in the history of sport.”

The Pierre de Coubertin Medal, named after the founder of the modern Olympic Games, is given to an Olympic athlete who demonstrates sportsmanship. Eugenio Monti, an Italian bobsledder, was the first to be given the award. During the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, Monti heard that the British bobsled team had broken a bolt on their sled and gave them one of his own. The British team used the bolt, completed their run and won the gold; the Italians took home the bronze. When asked about his noble gesture, Monti explained, “Tony Nash did not win because I gave him a bolt. Tony Nash won because he was the best driver.”

Reference: Sportsmanship


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines