After the Monday Night Football "Fail Mary" between the Packers and Seahawks where Seahawks WR, Golden Tate, was awared a touchdown on a jump ball when it was clear he didn't have it bringing down the whole officiating system of the NFL, people were saying that you can't expect an athlete to be honest or say he didn't have the ball when the officials awarded it to him. The common expectation is that players will get away with whatever they can unless the officials call it differently. But, European Soccer gives us a different story:
Very early in Napoli's match against Lazio at the San Paolo, Miroslav Klose scored off a corner kick to put Lazio up 1-0. While the Lazio players began to celebrate, Napoli protested the goal, saying that Klose scored with his hand, which he did. Klose then admitted his offense to the referee, who disallowed the goal, and the Napoli players showed their appreciation for Klose honesty by patting him on the back.
Napoli went on the beat Lazio 3-0, but it was the 34-year-old German legend who earned the lion's share of respect on the day. And making the incident even more enjoyable is the fact that he admitted to his handball goal in the stadium that used to be the home of Maradona, the unrepentant perpetrator of the Hand of God goal.
The original article found in the link has a video of the event embedded.
This just goes to show that acts of sacrificial honesty and justice are newsworthy. Winning isn't everything. Maintaining your integrity and being able to sleep at night are the more important things. We love sports because they are a dramatic rendering of life, condensed within a short time period, and played out in an arena for us to cheer and fret over. Sports is not real – but it feels real in the moment. And, the games have power to tell us a story about ourselves.
Miroslav Klose told a story through his actions that transcended his game. His honesty was bigger than the goal he scored or whether or not his team won the game, which they did. But, this will not be forgotten by the opposing players on that field, by his team, by the fans, or by Miroslav. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. I have never heard of Miroslav Klose before this morning, but in a week where I see Pete Carroll, the Seahawks coach declaring that Golden Tate made the catch when the whole country knows he didn't, it is nice to see someone with some honesty.
Thank you, Miroslav Klose.