Sportsmanship remains in game

There used to be signs hanging on the walls in high school all across the area discussing the idea of sportsmanship from the players and coaches all the way to the fans.

Those signs have disappeared from gyms, and while most people follow the old ideals, it seems the sportsmanship has as well.

Today, the game is more about winning than the conduct on the floor, especially during the tournament season. Therefore, it’s always nice to see people put aside the usual competitive feelings and show some compassion, like what occurred in the midst of a tightly contested Division IV sectional final between Mineral Ridge and Maplewood at Warren G. Harding gymnasium.

With 3 mintues remaining in the third quarter, the Rams’ Zac Hagy crumbled to the ground on an attempted rebound and immediately reached for his ankle. After the officials called a timeout, both teams went to their benches while the trainer and Mineral Ridge coach Chris Kohl attempted to see what was wrong with Hagy.

When Hagy wanted to leave the floor, he couldn’t do it under his own power, leaving Kohl to wave toward his bench to have somebody help carry the junior off the floor. With the Rams’ bench on the other side of the floor, nobody was able to get there quickly.

Here stepped in Maplewood’s Kevin Jones. As the Rockets went back onto the floor, the junior guard took Hagy’s left arm, threw it over his shoulder and proceeded to help his opponent back to the bench. At the half-court line, two of Hagy’s teammates took over.

“He’s a very great player,” Jones said following the game. “I thought I might as well show some respect somehow.”

For Maplewood coach Nathan Kish, this showed the maturation of his junior player who he has coached since taking the Maplewood job at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season.

“Kevin’s grown up a lot over the past two years of coaching him,” Kish said. “He did what he was supposed to do. It shows that he has a little bit of character. I was very glad to see him do that. It was a mature move on his part.”

Kish wasn’t the only one to appreciate Jones’ action.

Fans from both sides, who just seconds before were cheering their teams on to beat their opponents, came together for a single moment. Their enthusiastic applause filled the Harding gym in goodwill and not because of the game.

Following the game, Kohl had nothing but praise for the player.

“That’s what good sportsmanship is all about,” he said. “You’re battling out there on the floor, and it really doesn’t matter. You see a guy out there who is hurt and down, and you go and help him. That does my heart good. I don’t think you see enough of that.”

Kohl’s right – you don’t see conduct like that very often, which is why whenever you read stories, see clips on the television or online, it leaves a heart-warming and lasting impression.

Jones displayed class we used to expect from athletes – sportsmanship.