Playing by the Rules

“Are you sure?” Most tennis players will tell you that this is amongst the most common query that was thrown at them during their career, more often while playing unsupervised club-level matches. A generous mind might infer questionable eyesight of an opponent while the nasty one would cast aspersions on their integrity. The rules of tennis are well documented and lines clearly marked. Yet, this question pops up persistently. Why so?

How many times have we seen professional players shoot the question at linesmen, chair umpires and even tournament referees? They challenge calls and sometimes cross the line (remember the Serena Williams incident at the US Open last year where she threatened a lineswoman?

Now, let’s juxtapose an incident from golf, which like tennis, is very much considered to be a gentleman (and ladies) game. Brian Davis told the truth, upheld his integrity and didn’t once bother about forfeited $411,000 in prize money.

Just to jog your memory, let me reconstruct the incident. Teeing off with first place at stake, Davis was in a hazard that had reed clusters all round. He struck the ball but felt something was wrong and instantly called a PGA official and suggested that he might have grazed one of the reeds on his backswing. Nobody had called it and officials hadn’t seen anything amiss. His opponent hadn’t protested. But, Davis thought he had seen it from the corner of his eye and came clean.

Only repeated slow-motions replay on a nearby TV monitor could the officials confirm the infraction – PGA Rule 13.4 — which prohibits moving any “impediment” with the start of a player’s back swing. This meant a two stroke penalty which effectively ended Davis’s dream of a first PGA event.

Davis’s honest acceptance ended up overshadowing the tournament. His actions made bigger news than the actual victor. Intriguingly all the media attention came his way because he just did what he was supposed to do. He played the game by the rules.

So, does it mean that in today’s day and age, Davis’s behavior was an exception to the norm? So when one does the right thing in the right way, it becomes big news. And so we have a scenario where doing the right thing becomes the exception.

In your experience, do we play by the rules in the corporate world? What are your thoughts?

Leave a Reply