Is There Still Honor in Professional Sports?

RafaReactionThe answer is, YES!
While the nation turned its attention to the NFL cheating scandal dubbed “Inflategate”, it missed out on a remarkable act of sportsmanship that unfolded at the Australian Open, the 1st Major of the 2015 Tennis season. Tim Smyczek, a qualifier from Milwaukee, ranked 112 in the world, faced a Goliath in the 2nd round, Rafael Nadal. Tim played amazing for 4 hours and took the 14-time Men’s Singles Grand Slam Champion to the ultimate deciding 5th set. As Nadal served during the game which he hoped would win the match, a spectator yelled out loudly during Nadal’s ball toss and Nadal served a fault. But in an amazing show of sportsmanship, Smyczek called the attention of the chair umpire and held up 2 fingers indicating that Nadal should replay his first serve rather than counting it as fault. Smyczek was unable to return that next serve which gave Nadal 3 points in which to win the match. And he did just that.
Hours after the conclusion of the match tennis sportscasters were still praising Smyczek’s gentlemanliness and fair play. Benito Perez-Barbadillo, Nadal’s public relations manager had this to say: “I think he deserves the sportsmanship award for the next 10 years. I think Rafa would agree and everybody would agree. I’ve never seen that, and I’ve been in tennis for 19 years. Unbelievable.”
So, while the nation discovered that it could include the NFL culture alongside other famous cheaters such as Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds a young man from the heartland of America showed the world that fair play, courtesy, and grace while winning or losing is still alive.
When questioned, Smyczek stated that many players on the circuit might not have done what he did, but Tim had other things on his mind, “I know my parents would have killed me if I didn’t, it was the right thing to do”. Kudos to Tim and his parents!


  1. Spaniard says:

    Interesting. I have read that back in the day, during one of their many heated matches, John McEnroe was arguing a call with the umpire (no surprise there). His opponent, Bjorn Borg, agreed with him and basically gave up the next point as a concession. Good to know these gestures are not completely dead after all.

  2. Timshel says:

    The post reminded me this one from some time ago: I love stories like this. We take winning entirely too seriously, and have lost the will to lose even a game well and fairly — so how can ever bring ourselves to lose on principle or to sacrifice anything else of worth?

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