3 Acts of Great International Sportsmanship

Enduring moments in sporting history that epitomised fair play

Thanks to the nature of the 24-hour news channel, we’re constantly blasted with the very worst that professional sportspeople can do.

You’ve got constant corruption in the world of football, ongoing drug allegations in athletics and even match fixing in cricket – a sport that used to be synonymous with the very word of sportsmanship.

If you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed by the constant cheating and cries of foul play, then take a look at these great examples of where fair play and sportsmanship ruled the day:

Bell’s Bizarre Runout – Trentbridge, Nottinghamshire

In 2011, Ian Bell was arguably at the height of his powers. In the midst of a heated battle between India and England, a bizarre run-out threatened to throw a successful home side out of the running of the competition and tip the balance of the entire test series. Just before tea, on the third day, Bell was in command on an unbeaten 137, whilst his partner Eoin Morgan was just getting going. After Morgan smashed a ball that looked to be a four, the batsmen started to take off their gear and head inside. Lazily throwing the ball back in, an Indian fielder knocked the bails off the stumps and the umpires, looking rather perplexed, asked for a review.

The Third Umpire gave Bell out, who looked just as confused as everyone else on the pitch. During the break then captain Andy Strauss approached the opposition’s changing room to discuss the possibility of overturning the decision. MS Dhoni, showing great humility, agreed and after the break Bell returned to the crease with Morgan, much to the appreciation of the English crowd. Bell went on to score 159, only 22 more runs, but the gesture has not been forgotten.

Sweetsers Lock In – Muirfield, Scotland

Jesse Sweetser¬†was one of golf’s greatest amateur players. Born in 1902, he was recognised with the Bob Jones Award in 1986 (just three years before his death) for a career that was epitomised by endless deeds of good sportsmanship. A stockbroker by trade, Sweetser became the first American-born player to win the British Amateur in 1926, but the road to his victory wasn’t a straight forward one. ¬†His tournament winning game was almost forfeited when his Scottish opponent missed his tee time.

The officials residing over the tournament wanted to give the match to Sweetser, but Jesse didn’t feel comfortable travelling across the Atlantic to simply claim a tournament win by default. To avoid being awarded the win, he locked himself in his changing room and patiently waited for his opponent, whose car had broken down. When A. F. Simpson finally arrived on a bicycle, with his clubs strapped to his back, Sweetser emerged from his locker room and the game got under way. This story of good sportsmanship is even more incredible when you consider that the amateur golfer wasn’t in the best health at the time. What he assumed was a flu would later be diagnosed as tuberculosis, but he didn’t let this stop him from claiming the biggest win of his career.

Roddick’s Sacrificial Line-Call – Rome, Italy

In the early noughties, Andy Roddick was one of the biggest names in international tennis. Renowned for having an intense competitive streak, in addition to a flamboyant sense of humour, Roddick found himself in the form of his life after winning the US Open in 2003. By 2005, he was still in good shape and looking to regain the top spot after slipping down to No. 2. Always threatening on clay, the 2005 Rome Masters tournament was a perfect opportunity for him to do just that, however a superlative act of sportsmanship ended up halting his progress.

In his third round match, on the cusp of beating Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco, Roddick challenged a line call that would turn the tide of the match against him and result in his exit from the competition. At match point, an exacerbated Verdasco’s second serve was called out, however Roddick felt that this was the wrong call. Where most professional players would see this as a turn of bad luck for the opposition, the world number two pointed out the clear mark that that the ball had made within the court and the match continued. Verdasco then went on to pull the match back and knock Roddick out. Fernando later thanked his opponent and declared him to be a great sportsman.