Jack Sock is one of the better stories to emerge from the Olympics as this is easily one of the finest displays of sportsmanship in recent history. While we're all driven by the desire to win, the taste of success becomes infinitely more delicious when done in an honourable and respectable manner. At the highest level of sport, Jack could have easily accepted the chair umpire's call and carried on with the match. Instead, he took "the hard left" and challenged his opponent to protest the decision as he knew the ball was "in." I think part of what has made this moment go viral was the underlying belief that Mr. Sock would have made the same decision even if nobody was watching. The fact that he did it on the Olympic stage gave it the publicity it deserves, but likely resonates with people because it embodies the truest example of "sports don't build character, they reveal it."
While Jack's efforts here are beyond commendable, the challenge for us all is whether or not we will do the right thing when no one's watching. Several years back on my way to the rink, I was in a hurry and deliberately rolled through a stop sign. Consequently, I was reprimanded by campus safety and apologized profusely. He let me off, but one of my coaches - who apparently overheard me pleading for forgiveness - did not. Coach Dawson was furious that I was only apologizing because I had been caught. Why couldn't I have done the right thing in the first place? Was it that hard to come to a complete stop and abide by the rules? Since then I have routinely made sure to come to a complete stop even when no one is watching.
Sportsmanship at its core is about fairness, ethics, respect and a sense of fellowship.* This can't end when we leave the playing field. The optimist in me says Jack's display of sportsmanship here is just a small insight into who he is as a person and one of the many ways he is defined as a man.
* shamelessly copied from Wikipedia.