Sometimes, doing the right thing is the most unheralded thing.
Lilly King boasted about it.
Ichiro Suzuki has simply gone about it.
But both have done it right.
Monday night, King won the Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in the 100-meter breast stroke, edging Russian swimmer – and noted doper – Yulia Efimova. With a couple wags of her finger, she sent Efimova a clear message:
We don’t tolerate your kind, the kind who tries to game the system.
Then, after a world-record swim, she took a stand against blood doping – manipulating blood before an athletic event, as a means to enhance performance. Essentially, it’s cheating.
After the race, she told the media this:
“No, do I think people who have been caught doping should be on the team? They shouldn’t. It is unfortunate we have to see that.
“It is just something that needs to be set in stone that this is what we are going to do. Let’s settle this and be done with it. There should not be any bouncing back and forwards.”
Sunday in Denver, Ichiro got his 3,000th hit in Major League Baseball – in addition to the 1,278 hits he had in the Japanese league. Do some quick math, and that makes him the all-time hit king. Ichiro, who plays for the Miami Marlins, also broke Isao Harimoto’s Japanese all-time hits record in 2009.
He edges out Pete Rose, who finished his career with 4,256 career hits. Rose is a man who, in his Major League Baseball afterlife/banishment, seems to have little to no remorse for the fact that he bet on baseball as an MLB employee, lied about it and still demands a place in the Hall of Fame … while continuing to make a certain mockery of the game.
Ichiro? A polar opposite. What he told reporters Sunday in Colorado:
“I felt like today, when I first got my hit as a big leaguer, I was happy for myself. But today, when I got my 3,000th hit, I was happy but also I was more happy for the people around me, for the people who have supported me and cheered me on. I really felt that today.”
Both have taken sports – and to a certain extent, the world – by storm.
But both set a certain example. One we should mind a little more.
We’re taught to value the number of Twitter followers we have, the number of website clicks we get, the number of Louis Vuitton handbags we have, the number of dollars we have in our bank account … without understanding what our motivations are. We do it sometimes surreptitiously or at the expense of others, or sometimes at the expense of ourselves.
Here’s what Ichiro stands for: he loves the game, he goes about his business, he does it the right way. Have we ever seen his name pop up on TMZ or on Page Six?
The same goes for Lilly King, a college student who calls herself a “McDonald’s enthusiast” in her Twitter profile. (An Olympian loves fast food? Wow!)
She didn’t just do a brave thing. King did the right thing. She used the Olympics as a global platform to tell the world, “Do the right thing.”