Top 10 Great Sportsmanship Moments from 2012

There were so  many with the London 2012 Olympics, Euro 2012, Ryder Cup and so much more.   Here’s our Top Ten starting with Number 10 and working our way down to our Number 1  Great Sportsmanship Moment of the year.


10.      Golf –  Young American’s  Honesty Of The Highest Order  

November:  A young American golfer traded his lifetime dream for honour & integrity. Blayne Barber, finally qualified to play on the PGA tour. His dream had come true. However, he thought he accidentally moved a leaf while playing out of a bunker. No one saw it. He asked his caddie and others, they said no he was fine. But he wasn’t happy. So he penalised himself 1 shot. He still qualified, (and still won by 4 shots) but as he drove home he realised it should have been a 2 shot penalty so he phoned in and disqualified himself.  Honourable Young Golfer Throws Away His PGA Dream


Golfing Dream Is Lost
Golfing Dream Is Lost

9.      Tennis – Spanish    Friendship Despite Defeat

January: Despite losing an epic Australian Open Final lasting 5 hours and 53 minutes, Spain’s Rafal Nadal wore a beautiful smile. At 2am in Melbourne he addressed the packed arena by saying with great humour: “Good morning! First I would like to congratulate him (Djokovic). I thank the ball boys, the umpires, the sponsors and so on ……“I will never forget this game even though I lost it.”


8.      Boat Race  –  Oxford Lose With Honour

April: When a swimming protester interrupted the oldest boat race in the world, the race had to be restarted. Soon after there was a clash of blades (oars) which snapped an Oxford oar. Severely hampered, they limped on refusing to give up. Cambridge won easily. If Oxford decided to stop racing Cambridge would still be winners but the race would be recorded as ‘race not completed’.  Oxford insisted in finishing the race.


7.      Football – Spanish Captain’s Humility & Respect

July:   During the final minutes of the Euro 2012 Final, you can hear, on video, the Spanish captain, Casillas, asking the referee to end the game early – out of respect for Italy as Spain look like scoring a 5th goal against 10 man Italy. He didn’t want to start celebrating Spain’s winning of the Euro 2012, he simply respected Italy too much to insult them with another goal and a record defeat. Spanish Flair & Great Sportsmanship Prevail

Football Humility

Football Humility

6.   Speed Skating – Canadians & Americans Celebrate Greatness

October:  Despite America being the arch enemy on ice, for all Canadians, when American JR Celski broke the speed skating world record by becoming  the first man ever to skate 500m in under 40 seconds, the  whole Canadian stadium erupted in celebration  – the American fans, the Canadian fans, the coaches, the competitors even the stewarts cheered and whooped – they all recognised greatness and applauded it regardless. Opposition Fans Cheer New World Record 

5.    Cricket –   South African Respect

December: When Australia’s captain, Ricky Ponting, walked out for the last time in his test cricket career, the whole  South African team formed a guard of honour and applauded him. Ponting scored 13,378 from 168 test matches (only one other man on the planet who has scored more test runs – India’s Sachin Tendulkar). A magical moment of Respect.

 South African Respect

South African Respect


4.    Snooker –   Fair Play from A Welsh Dragon

May: Amidst the intensity of a World Snooker Championship semi-final, Mathew Stevens (previously beaten in 2 finals and 3 semi-finals & his first semi-final since 2005) showed great sportsmanship when he declared a foul on himself when he barely double hit the ball by accident. No one saw it including referee Brendan Moore and opposition, Ronnie O’Sullivan. However, Stevens insisted on declaring it.  O’Sullivan tapped the table with his cue in applause for Stevens sportsmanship.


3.     Baseball   – American Respect & Friendliness

May: 28 year old baseball pitcher for Detroit Tigers, Armando Gallaraga, pitched ‘the perfect game’ – a feat accomplished by only 20 other pitchers ever – BUT unfortunately the umpire made a terrible mistake and disallowed it. The perfect game is when the pitcher pitches a victory  and  faces 27 batters in 9 innings and none of them get to 1st base.  Gallaraga said afterwards  ‘Nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes mistakes’ and shook hands with the umpire.


2.     Athletics – Jamaican & British Athletes’ Enjoyment

August: So many Olympic moments from Nicola Adams’s radiant smile to the whole stadia packed with smiling spectators cheering on great performances regardless of which country.  We were posting up to 3 stories a day on the Great Sportsmanship facebook page during the Olympics. The Iconic moment when Mo Farah & Usain Bolt imitated each other. Both with big smiles enjoying themselves, doing what they love and remembering to have some fun.

Olympics Enjoyment – A Celebration Of Fun, Sport & Culture


1.      Golf  –   American Friendliness & Respect

Sep: The Ryder Cup is unique in sport. The world’s best pro’s compete for no money – just pride. They  actually shake with nerves when they play in the Ryder cup. There’s an awful lot of emotion and history attached to this competition. The European team invoked the spirit of the late great, Seve Ballestos. Captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, talked about Seve’s passion in his team talks. The team wore navy blue jumpers and white shirts with a silhouette of Seve on the sleeve. When they won Jose said “All men die but not all live…you made me feel alive again this week’.  There were many moments of sportsmanship during the 3 day epic battle (see original post).   But this next moment caught the eye…….

When Justin Rose sunk a huge putt on the 17th, the camera just catches a subtle moment, America’s Phil Mickleson smiling and giving Justin Rose a very clear thumbs up.

The Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup


Tell us your favourite sportsmanship story from 2012. Add it here, as a comment (see below) or visit our facebook page, Great Sportsmanship . And here’s wishing you many more wonderful sportsmanship experiences in 2013. Say ‘Yes’ to Great Sportsmanship.  finally, please do consider making a new year pledge – become a sportsmanship ambassador and promote this programme /sportsmanship wherever and whenever you can.

13 thoughts on “Top 10 Great Sportsmanship Moments from 2012”

  1. an excellent top ten for 2012. Its amazing to read about the integrity and honesty of people, especially when it involves sport and the urge to win or be the best really comes out in competitors. It would be great to see more of this attitude in football which I feel is the most watched of sports and give more of our young people more of these qualities

  2. Many thanks Alan. You are absolutely right. In fact I will be working on a campaign to bring back rugby’s 10 yard rule into football (any shouting to, or disputing with, the ref and you go back 10 yards for a free kick).

  3. Roger, I discovered another nice Mickleson moment …earlier in the competition … when a heckler (described as a Hannibal Lecter soundalike) tried to distract Rose when he settled over a bunker shot – “he was doing that sucking of the lips he did in the film” – Rose eventually walked away and challenged the heckler. Mickelson graciously called security over to deal with the situation. – Guardian It was a truly great competition with many magical moments that inspire us all. ~ Paul

    • This moment transformed my opinion of Mr. Michelson completely. In my only trip to a PGA/Ryder Cup event, I was so lucky to have witnessed Phil’s sportsmanship. With Mr. Rose lining up his shot in the bunker on the right side of the fairway, Phil was on the far left side of the fairway planning his shot with an iron in his hand. Upon hearing and/or seeing the commotion surrounding Justin, he jammed the iron back in his bag much as you might after playing a terrible shot and marched headstrong to the other side. Thanks, Phil, for it’s these moments too that show a person’s real shine. ~ George

      • Superb George. I vaguely recall the moment… did he ask the crowd to calm down so that young Rose could play his shot?
        Incidentally, in the book Great Moments of Sportsmanship, I told another Michelson story of the Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland 2006, when Darren Clarke walked onto the 1st tee (with a bag of mixed emotions & probably shaking like a leaf) after finally deciding to play after losing his beloved wife, Heather, a month before. His American opposition, Michelson, was there waiting for him. As Clarke stepped up, Michelson went over and embraced him in a bear hug that seemed to last forever. Clarke settled down and hit a beauty.

        • Thank you, Paul, for creating this wonderful avenue in which to share and cherish these genuine acts of sportsmanship.

          Your recollection of the 12th hole is similar to mine; Phil briefly addressed the crowd and also assisted in summoning security to the area.

          It is rather difficult to remain emotionless with regard to your reference of Phil’s actions during the Ryder Cup in County Kildare. Once again, his sportsmanship and true character shone like a beacon. As my wife and I currently wait in hospital for her to undergo gallbladder surgery, she also recalled in that same Ryder Cup how, during the opening ceremonies, Darren was paired with the Michelsons. Without hesitation, Amy stepped between the men and the three of them walked arm in arm. My wife teared up immediately when recounting this memory. ~ George

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