Column: Sportsmanship is out there if you look hard enough |

Column: Sportsmanship is out there if you look hard enough

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor


Why don’t we see more of it during games instead of the forced postgame handshakes that are prevalent in high school and college contests?

Maybe it’s because the young athletes don’t see professional superstars like LeBron James and LaDainian Tomlinson show good sportsmanship during their games.

Children are going to emulate the stars who they repeatedly watch on TV. They’ll most likely adopt their mannerisms and conduct primarily because they can’t duplicate their athletic feats.

For some reason, I only learned about one of the greatest acts of sportsmanship more than a year after it happened. Some of you may have read about it recently in Sports Illustrated or viewed it on YouTube.

In a key late-season softball game between Western Oregon and Central Washington University in 2008, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon launched a three-run homer over the fence. It was Tucholsky’s first career home run, but there was only one problem. After running past first base – a bag she missed – Tucholsky attempted to retreat to the base, but her knee locked up, causing ligaments to tear. She collapsed to the ground and crawled over to first base.

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Unable to use a substitute runner to complete her home-run trot or be assisted by teammates or coaches, it was looking as if Tucholsky’s first homer would turn into a two-run single. But in stepped Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace of the opposing team. They picked up Tucholsky and carried her around the bases so she could complete one of the most incredible acts of sportsmanship ever witnessed.

This rare example of sportsmanship won a 2008 ESPY for best moment in sports.

How do you top that? Hopefully someone will.

Sportsmanship is out there. You just have to look hard and long for it.

This time of the year you will see Little League shortstops and second basemen give high-fives to opponents who hit home runs in all-star tournaments.

One of my favorite sporting gestures by local athletes came in a 2005 cross country meet at Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley. South Tahoe High cross country runner Patrick Reilly waited about 30 seconds for teammate Joey Summerhill to enter into the football stadium for the last stretch of the race. At the finish line, Reilly let Summerhill cross ahead of him for his first prep victory. Why would Reilly prefer to finish second? Earlier in the race, Summerhill called out to his teammate after he took a wrong route, saving him a possible disqualification. That’s a real teammate.

Even the pros can deliver sportsmanship.

John Brodie, once a star quarterback for the 49ers, prevented former major league pitcher Rick Rhoden from a possible two-stroke penalty during an American Century Championship that Rhoden went on to win. Rhoden was setting up for an unusual chip shot on the 16th green with the pin still stuck in the cup. Brodie informed Rhoden that if his chip shot hit the pin, he would be assessed a two-stroke penalty because it didn’t matter that he wasn’t using his putter.

Do you think Tiger Woods would have done the same for Phil Mickelson?

Wasn’t it awful during the NBA playoffs when James declined to shake hands with Orlando players and coaches after the Cavaliers were eliminated by the Magic?

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see an honest player or coach help a referee or official make the right call, even if their actions hurt their own team? But that wouldn’t be cool, would it?

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or