I had the normal routine going this morning on the way to work. The highway was congested, sun in my face, and Mike and Mike In The Morning was on the radio. This time of year is usually filled with NBA playoffs talk or baseball banter. I’m programmed to wait for a last-second shot call or a no-hitter that should’ve been. Today was different. I heard four letters that probably have never been uttered on Mike and Mike air before…N-A-I-A.
So, I turned the volume up and heard Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic arguing about whether or not the end of an NAIA golf match qualified as sportsmanship. This was great! I texted the station repeatedly and called several times to no avail. The opportunity to debate the merits of good sportsmanship before a national radio audience was right there. Oh well, I didn’t get through but I got the details of a story that exemplifies everything we want our kids to be.
Grant Whybark, a sophomore at the University of St. Francis (Joliet, Ill.), had already qualified for nationals by virtue of his team winning the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship. NAIA rules allow the individual winner of the tournament and all the members of the winning team to compete at nationals. Whybark and Seth Doran, a senior at Olivet Nazarene University (Bourbonnais, Ill.) were competing in a playoff for the individual title. Doran had to win the playoff to make nationals. Whybark was going to nationals win or lose.
The St. Francis golfer made his intentions clear on his tee shot. Whybark intentionally hit his ball 40 yards to the right of the fairway and finished with a double bogey on the hole. Doran made par and won the championship. When asked why he did it, Whybark offered the following explanation. “We all know Seth very well. He not only is a very good player, but a great person as well. It was one of those things where I couldn’t feel good taking something from him like this. My goal from the start was to get to nationals with my team. I had already done that.”
“Champions of Character” is the motto for the NAIA. Servant leadership, respect, integrity, responsibility, and sportsmanship are the core values. National pundits will scratch their heads at Whybark’s actions, but the young man makes it simple for us. “I think some people were surprised, but my team knew what I was doing and was supportive of me. I felt Seth deserved to go to nationals just as much as I did.” The light of a man’s character shines long after the polish on his trophies have faded. Let your light so shine. Until next time…
Be a Good Sport!