Modern sport is not known for its good sportsmanship. But a moment in early January stood out as a glorious exception. It was a Hopman Cup Tennis match between Australian Leyton Hewitt and American Jack Sock. Hewitt’s serve was called out but as he went to serve again Sock shouted that the ball had been in and suggested Hewitt challenged the call. In tennis you have a few challenges per set where you can ask for video replay to check the call. There was a moment of uncommon warmth and humour between the players before Hewitt challenged the call and sure enough the ball was in.
The world is simply a better place for such moments. When honesty is more important than winning. When your opponent is respected and is not someone to defeat at the cost of your own goodness.
If you ever get to see the Hewitt/Sock moment you will see the surprise in Hewitt’s face before a smile breaks in. The umpire is thrown into total confusion. It is the unexpected goodness of the moment.
The first time I saw Jack Sock’s goodness, I yearned for it in Northern Ireland. What if our politicians in the north showed such honesty… vulnerability… courage… It would make you want to vote!
What if Church leaders showed the same respect and honour to their people and those who they don’t see as their people. It would make you want to go to Church!
What if all of us showed the same fairness and humanity and justice in all our dealings across our divided communities. It would make you – indeed all of us – much more hopeful.
I think it is what Jesus was getting at when he said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also….Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Such behaviour pleasantly surprises those that you are supposedly at enmity with. What it does most of all is make the world a better, fairer and more humane place. A place that we would all love to live in… if only sport was always like the Hewitt/Sock moment. If only Northern Ireland was too..