What the World Needs Now – Is Selflessness

2013_Masters_Tianlang_Guan_14_Year_Old_Score_AugustaTwo stories dominated the world of sports this week: One featuring a young athlete who is still learning and the other having to do with a veteran that should know better. They are stark contrasts in sportsmanship, selflessness and taking responsibility for your actions.

In the world of golf, who wasn’t touched and heartened by the reaction of 14-year-old golf phenom Guan Tianlan after he was assessed a rarely enforced one stroke penalty for slow play at the Masters. “I respect their decision” he said of the move that almost eliminated him from the tournament. Equally refreshing were the words of his father, Han Wan who stated: “A rule is a rule.”

Moving across the country, meanwhile, to California and the sport of baseball, what are we to make of San Diego behemoth outfielder Carlos Quentin’s neanderthal rushing of Dodger pitcher Zack Greinke, a man some 50 pounds slighter, which cracked Greinke’s collarbone? Never mind that the game was 2-1 in favor of the Padres, in the sixth inning, and the that pitch came on a 3-2 count. Never mind that Quentin has been hit more than 100 times in his career.  Quentin instead cited a “history” of being hit by Greinke (two times since 2009) for his actions, which now has him on the bench, and unable to contribute, for a prolonged suspension.

In baseball, there is a time to enforce “the code” which protects one’s teammates. Quentin instead allowed a perceived personal vendetta to negatively affect his team.

If we are looking for an example to follow in sports from an athlete, thank goodness this week we had the good fortune to see how we should conduct ourselves – on the links and between the lines: selflessly. No excuses. No complaints. CSN&Y once sang: Teach your children well. Guan Tianlan, an 8th grader, reminded us that our children can teach us as well.