Sportsmanship is still alive and well -- just look around

One of the great things about this time of year is how it reminds us that sportsmanship isn't dead.

Every series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs ends with the traditional handshake line between the teams, no matter how bitterly fought the games were. Now, that's not to say that maybe some guys don't handle it in quite the right spirit -- like, say, the Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic -- but for the most part, the custom is a welcome throwback to how we were taught to be good sports.

And sportsmanship means playing fair, not the old "if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'" attitude.

In that vein come two stories in which someone gave up something very dear -- a berth in the U.S. Open golf tournament and a final state championship to close out a coaching career -- because it was the right thing to do.

First, the golf: Landon Michelson had been a lucky guy to even get a spot in the Open sectional qualifying Monday in Vero Beach, Florida -- another golfer decided not to show. And Michelson took advantage, shooting two rounds of 71 to nab the last qualifying berth.

However, Michelson had signed for a 70 in one round. So his choice was to admit his mistake and be disqualified or keep his mouth shut and take the Open bid. Michelson acknowledged it was a tough call.

"You can say it was the only thing to do, but I could have easily have said nothing and I'd be playing in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst," Michelson said, as reported by Golfweek.

Some prodding by his caddie, Chris Ingham, led Michelson to decide he really had no choice but to do the honorable thing and report himself.

Ingham said: "He told me, 'This means the world to me. I don't know if I can do it.' (He told Michelson) I think you are going to regret it if you don't come forward."

Meanwhile, on Monday in Massachusetts, North Attleboro High School boys track and field coach Derek Herber was doing the equivalent of checking his scorecard.

On Sunday, his team had won a state championship, allowing Herber to go out on top. He already had announced this was his last season as coach.

However, as Herber went over the numbers the next day, they didn't add up to the one-point victory that North Attleboro had been awarded, the Boston Globe reported. Instead, his calculations showed that his team actually finished third.

Herber informed state athletic officials of the mistake -- it turned out that scorers at the meet had credited his team with the points in a hurdles race that should have gone to another school. That gave the state championship to Central Catholic, which soon was getting a call from Herber with congratulations and an apology. (Though Herber had nothing to apologize for.)

"I feel bad for my seniors," Herber said. "I think they truly had an opportunity to win, but I think they also understand they wanted to do it in the right way. The right team won."

And the right man was coaching, someone who understands that another plaque for the trophy case doesn't mean nearly as much as teaching one last lesson in sportsmanship before hanging up your whistle.