Amid all the sordid news about bad conduct by athletes and coaches throughout the sporting world, it is good to note there have been many instances of true sportsmanship. Two recent unrelated events caused me to recall one of my favorite positive sports stories.
Last Saturday, I watched the
in action because they were hosting my Wisconsin Badgers. The next day, Arnold
Palmer died. Palmer dominated professional golf for years, first on the regular
tour and later as a participant with other older stars in the Legends of Golf
tournament and similar events. Michigan State
Throughout the 1980s and 90s I played golf many Saturday mornings at a course near our home in Ogden, Utah, with a group of men who jokingly referred to themselves as the "Local Legends." Some of us were as old as Palmer and the rest of the real "legends," but none of us came anywhere close to their skill level. It was easy to join our group; anyone who wanted to play could.
By the luck of the draw, one Saturday I wound up in a foursome with a newcomer named Jones who was a professor at
. Dr. Jones was
a big man who hit golf balls a long way, but not terribly accurately. Weber State
It was fall, and the chit-chat in our foursome naturally turned to football. "Did you ever play?" Jones was asked.
"Oh yeah," he replied, I was a defensive tackle for a couple of years at a small west coast school."
"Which small school?"
That exchange got some laughs, and also led to a question about Jones' experiences on the gridiron. He said only one was memorable.
. They had a lot of
talent that year; we were pretty lousy. They beat up on us every which way. Michigan
"After we took our licking, we were sulking in our locker room when the Spartan coach knocked on the door. He asked our coach if he could speak to us. No one I know ever heard of an opposing coach doing that.
"Duffy Daugherty stood in the middle of the room and told us we had nothing to be ashamed of. He said even though we were over-matched, we had played our best to the very end, and he was impressed. He told us it had been an honor to coach against us that day. He said if we lived the rest of our lives with the perseverance we had shown, we would always have reason to be proud of ourselves."
Although he didn't specify the contest, Jones probably was referring to a game in 1961 when the Spartans beat Stanford 31-3. That year MSU's record was 7-2; Stanford went 4-6.
Several years later, Daugherty's
team was named national champions in a poll of coaches. Dr. Jones' story led me to believe coach Daugherty was
one of the true champions we sorely need today in sports. Michigan State