We recently took a look at some of the most unsportsmanlike moments in sports history, so to restore some faith in the sporting world and humanity, today we are looking at the most sportsmanlike moments ever seen. Whilst these may not be as shocking and, at times, funny as unsportsmanlike moments, it can be fantastic to see professional athletes respecting their opponent and consequently the game. Sport is at its best when it is played fairly and where respect is shown to the opposition, but sadly, as we saw before, this does not always happen.
10. Lending the Goalie a Hand
The Barclay’s Premier League is not always a place that is a great advert for sportsmanship, but the Saudi Premier League, on the other hand, made the headlines for all the right reasons with this heartwarming moment in 2013 between Al-Nahdha and Al-Ittihad. There isn’t much you can do as a goalkeeper if you find your shoelaces untied with your gloves on, but instead of taking advantage, an opposing player lent a hand to his opponent. This moment was then almost ruined by the referee who penalized the goalkeeper for holding onto the ball for too long, but sportsmanship prevailed in the end when the team awarded the free kick protested and kicked the ball into touch so that the other team would retain possession. This is sportsmanship at its finest, and it is hard to imagine anybody in the Premier League replicating and similar behavior.
9. Canadian Ski Coach Comes to Russian Skier’s Aid
Although his athletes were eliminated earlier in the competition and he had no involvement in the semi-final of the men’s free sprint at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Canadian cross-country ski coach Justin Wadsworth showed fantastic sportsmanship and his actions quickly went viral. When Russian skier Anton Gafarov, a medal favorite, crashed and broke his ski, he was way behind the pack and clearly struggling. Wadsworth grabbed a spare ski and ran onto the track to help Gafarov, who made it across the finish line in front of the home fans. Wadsworth, a three-time Olympian, later stated that, “I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line.” Although neither could say a word to one another, there was a clear understanding between the two of them and sportsmanship raised above everything else that day.
8. Paolo Di Canio Stops to Check on Everton Goalkeeper
When you think of Premier League legend Paolo Di Canio, sportsmanship is one of the last words that comes to mind. The fiery Italian made headlines for his wild behavior (including pushing a referee) as often as he would for his phenomenal goalscoring exploits. But in a 2000 fixture against Everton, he once showed fantastic sportsmanship in passing up the opportunity to score to see if his opponent was okay. After taking a hit near the edge of the box, Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard collapsed to the turf with a leg injury. Di Canio’s teammates played on and crossed the ball into the box where Di Canio was waiting, but instead of firing into the open goal, he caught the ball to stop play and make sure that Gerrard was not seriously injured. For this noble act, Di Canio was applauded by the opposition (a first for him).
7. Runner Passes Up Opportunity to Beat Olympic Medalist
If the majority of people had the opportunity to finish a race ahead of an Olympic medalist, they would jump at the chance and likely tell the story every day for the rest of their life. In a running event in 2012, Spanish runner Ivan Fernandez Anaya had this opportunity after Kenya’s Olympic bronze medalist Abel Mutai slowed near the finish line thinking that he had won. Instead of overtaking at the last second and claiming glory, Anaya urged his opponent over the line and settled for second place. Anaya later told the media that he did not deserve to win and Mutai had created a gap that he could not close if he hadn’t made the mistake. Although the majority were stunned by Anaya’s sportsmanship and selflessness, his coach was far from impressed and saw it as a missed opportunity.
6. John Landy Helps His Opponent and Still Wins
Shortly after Roger Bannister made history by becoming the first person to run a mile in just four minutes in 1954, Australian runner John Landy did the same. In the 1956 Australian National Championships, Landy made history again, but this time for a different reason. During the third lap of the final, 19-year-old Ron Clarke tripped and fell. Landy, who was just behind, had to leap over his fellow countryman and accidentally scraped his arm. Instead of carrying on for gold, Landy amazed the world by stopping and helping his opponent to his feet. He then set off again, and miraculously pulled back the gap between himself and the leaders to win the race. Many say that he would have set a world record had he carried on. Today, a statue commemorates this brilliant moment which is aptly titled “sportsmanship.”
5. Freddy Flintoff Consoles Brett Lee Despite Narrowest Ashes Victory Ever
Anybody that follows cricket knows that there is no love lost between England and Australia, and The Ashes are amongst the most fiercely contested series in all of sports. Although you will frequently see insults being hurled and mental battles ensuing, occasionally you will see glimpses of sportsmanship. The most famous example occurred in the thrilling 2005 series, which saw England win back the urn for the first time since 1987. During the second match at Edgbaston, England looked set to level the series until Australia came roaring back and were just three runs from victory. However, an athletic catch gave England the narrowest Ashes victory ever. Australian batsman Brett Lee was crushed, but England bowler Freddie Flintoff consoled him instead of joining in the celebrations. Flintoff later stated how he respected Lee and how he did not deserve to lose.
4. Friendly Advice at the 1936 Olympic Games
The Olympics is somewhere that you often see fantastic sportsmanship and this is a part of what makes it so enjoyable to watch. Perhaps the most notable example occurred at the famous 1936 Olympics in Berlin, during the long jump event. German jumper Luz Long qualified for the finals with a brilliant Olympic record jump, and American Jesse Owens was on the brink of disqualification after fouling on his first two attempts. Prior to his final attempt, the German advised him to set his take off-point back to ensure he did not foul again. Owens advanced, and then won the gold with a new world record whilst Long settled for silver. This all occurred in front of Adolf Hitler, and Owens befriended Long before he was killed in WWII. Owens remained in contact with Long’s family after he passed.
3. An Agreement Between Opposing Teams
In professional sports, teams will usually do whatever it takes to win. This often means that sportsmanship does not prevail, but this is not always the case in youth sports. During a freshman football game between Benton and Maryville in 2009, Maryville had a commanding 46-0 lead with just 10 seconds to play. Benton head coach Dan McCamy called a timeout and inserted 15-year-old Matt Ziesel into the game, a freshman with Down syndrome who was on the team but never played. McCamy approached the Maryland defensive coach and asked if they would let Ziesel run in for a touchdown. Most teams would want a shutout, but they obliged and Ziesel scored his first ever touchdown in a heart-warming moment with amazing sportsmanship all around. McCamy later reflected how important that play was and the impact that it had on Matt Ziesel.
2. Roddick Corrects the Call on Match Point
You do not find athletes more fiery or competitive than Andy Roddick, but during the 2005 Rome Masters he also showed remarkable sportsmanship and respect for his opponent and the game. In his third round match against Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, Roddick had match point with Verdasco on his second serve. The linesman called out which gave Roddick the victory, but he pointed out the ball mark on the clay which proved that it was in and the call was changed. Verdasco went on to win the match and Roddick was eliminated from the competition. Verdasco later thanked Roddick and called him a great sportsman. This is certainly true, as many would simply take the victory and blame the umpire for making a mistake on the call. Not Roddick, however, who may have been knocked out despite his sportsmanlike behavior, but he went on to have a stellar career.
1. Jack Nicklaus at the Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup is fiercely fought golf competition between Europe and the United States, but sportsmanship prevailed in 1969 thanks to a remarkable action from Jack Nicklaus at his very first Ryder Cup. Up till this point it was a competition dominated by the States, but things were all tied as the final pair, Nicklaus and Britain’s Tony Jacklin, teed off on the 18th. With Jacklin two feet from the cup and Nicklaus four feet, Nicklaus sank his putt for birdie which put all the pressure on Jacklin. However, in front of 8,000 people watching, Nicklaus picked up Jacklin’s marker, conceding the putt needed to tie. He shook his hand and this resulted in the first ever share of the Ryder Cup. Nicklaus later said to Jacklin, “I don’t think you would have missed that Tony, but I didn’t want to give you the chance.”