In response to the Stan ‘The Man’ vs Lance ‘The Liar’ post on MillersTime a few days ago, friend and reader Diane K. bemoaned that there were not more good stories of athletes such as Stan Musial.
As if on cue, my son-in-law told me about a story he had just seen where Ivan Fernandez Anaya, a Spanish runner, did precisely what Diane, and many others, long to hear.
In December, in a long distance race, Abel Mutai of Kenya, who had won a bronze medal in the Olympics, thought he had won this race and slowed, actually short of the finish line. Anaya, coming up behind Mutai, knowing that he could have passed Mutai and won the race, did something different.
Anaya told, motioned to Mutai that the finish line was a few meters ahead. Mutai sped up and won the race. Anaya took second place.
Anaya’s coach said, “The gesture has made him a better person, but not a better athlete. He has wasted an occasion. Winning always makes you more of an athlete. You have to go out to win.”
(For more on this race, see Iván Fernández Anaya’s kindness reaffirms faith in athletes for some.)
Of course the coach was wrong. It is possible to be the best of athletes and also the best of human beings.
The two are not mutually exclusive.
It is stories such as these that we must celebrate.
We must tell them to each other, tell them to our children, tell them to our grand children.
I don’t know whether there are more Lance Armstrongs and Barry Bonds in the world than there are Stan Musials or Ivan Anayas.
But there are many of the latter.
We need to be sure their stories get as much circulation as do the ones of those who only care about winning, no matter at what cost.
And we need to be sure our children and grand children hear these stories.
Micah Sifry said:
I totally agree. My favorite story in this genre is this one: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/24392612/
Our daughter Mira played college varsity softball, and when this story came out, her comment was filled with pride for her sport. “Softball has class,” she said. Indeed, some things are way more important than winning.
Diane Kupelian said:
Wow! Two stories of extreme decency in sports! I’m impressed. Good sportsmanship is important, and I am greatly heartened to see that there still is some of that in the world.
What do we do about the tolerance for bad sportsmanship, and far, far worse, in today’s world of professional sports?