In the sport of golf, when people talk about character and integrity many think of Tom Kite. During his early years on tour, Kite was coming down the stretch of a tournament tied for the lead. Standing over the ball, Tom inadvertently brushed the ball with his club. No one saw it move, but Tom did. He called a 1 stroke penalty on himself and lost the tournament. Later in his career, Kite was leading in the 1993 Kemper Open. His playing partner, Grant Waite, was about to take his shot when Kite noticed Waite’s heel was slightly out of bounds. Kite quickly stopped Waite and pointed to his heel. He said, “We don’t need any penalties here.”
Tom Kite’s actions are a rarity in sports today. It would have been easy for Kite to pretend his ball didn’t move or allow his playing partner to be penalized. We are taught to push and bend the rules to see how much we can get away with before an official penalizes us. The more we get away with, the better. Do whatever you can to improve our chances of winning. In completive sports, have you heard a football player say they held on a play, basketball player call a travel on themselves, or a baseball player confess they missed the bag? How about a competitor warning his opponent to save them from a penalty?
Tom Kite understood something. Even if nobody else knew, he would know the truth when he laid his head on his pillow at night. His character was more important to him than a tournament win.
Is a win, knowing that you cheated, really a win?
Is character more important to you than a win? Why or why not?
What type of character do you want this team to be remembered for?