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10 Acts of Good Sportsmanship

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If LeBron James' ESPN special left you feeling down about the state of sports, perhaps these stories will remind you why you started watching athletics in the first place. Here are 10 acts widely considered to be examples of good sportsmanship. Feel free to add your own and debate the merits of each of these in the comments.

1. Lutz Long

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At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, long jumper Lutz Long set an Olympic record during the preliminary round to qualify for the finals. American Jesse Owens fouled on his first two attempts and faced disqualification if he fouled again. Before Owens made his final attempt, Long, a German, advised him to adjust his take-off point—to several inches behind the foul line—to ensure that he would advance to the next round. Owens heeded Long's advice, qualified for the finals, and set a new world record to win the gold medal. Long took the silver. "It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler," Owens later said. "You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn't be a plating on the 24-carat friendship that I felt for Lutz Long at that moment." Long was killed in World War II, but his family has remained in contact with Owens' family ever since.

2. John Landy

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Australian John Landy made history when he became the second man to break 4 minutes in the mile, 46 days after Roger Bannister became the first in 1954. Landy is revered in Australia, where he served as the 26th Governor of Victoria, in part because of the mile race he ran at the 1956 Australian national championships. During the third lap, 19-year-old Ron Clarke, who would go on to set 17 world records during his career, tripped and fell. Landy, who was trailing close behind, leapt over Clarke and accidentally scraped his rival's arm with his spikes in the process. Landy stopped running to make sure that Clarke wasn't badly hurt before resuming his chase of the pack that had charged ahead. To the amazement of everyone in the crowd, Landy came from behind to finish first in a time of 4 minutes, 4 seconds.

Fifty years after the fact, Landy reflected on the astonishing race. "I reacted on the spur of the moment," he said. "You do things like an embedded impulse. You don't ask why." Today, a bronze statue in Melbourne commemorates Landy's good deed. It's titled, simply, "Sportsmanship."

3. Jimmy Connors

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There wasn't much love lost between Jimmy Connors and John Newcombe throughout their careers, but there was at least one time when the tennis foes played nice. During the third set of the 1975 Australian Open final, Connors was the beneficiary of three consecutive controversial calls. Leading 40-15, Connors intentionally double-faulted, drawing a round of applause from the pro-Newcombe crowd. After Connors faulted on his first serve of the next point and lobbed the ball in the air for his second serve, a fan shouted "double fault." Connors caught the ball, but would then double fault. He lost the game, the set, and ultimately the match. "I don't regret throwing it, but don't put me in the same position again," Connors said afterward of his somewhat questionable display of sportsmanship.

There are at least two accounts of how Newcombe responded to the gesture. According to one report, Newcombe applauded his rival's act, saying, "Today, Jimmy Connors proved to me that a champion has to know how to win—and how to lose." According to another account, Connors's gift fueled Newcombe's fire. "That's something a goose would do," he said, "and the only thing you do with a goose is put him in the oven and cook him."

4. Jack Nicklaus

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The 1969 Ryder Cup at the Royal Birkdale Club in Southport, England, was tied as the final pair, the United States' Jack Nicklaus and England's Tony Jacklin, teed off on the 18th. Nicklaus, who was playing in his first Ryder Cup, sank his four-foot par putt, and before Jacklin could address his two-foot par putt to tie, reached down and picked up his opponent's ball marker. It was a sporting gesture by Nicklaus, who didn't want to put Jacklin through the pressure of making the "gimme" before thousands of British fans.

By conceding the putt, Nicklaus ensured that the competition would end in a tie for the first time in its 42-year history. "I don't think you would have missed that putt, but in these circumstances I would never give you the opportunity," Nicklaus told Jacklin. While the United States, which had won the previous 10 events, retained the Ryder Cup with the tie, team captain Sam Snead reportedly wasn't happy with Nicklaus's decision.

5. Nate Haasis

When Nate Haasis learned that his own coach had made a deal with the opposing team to allow him to set a record in his final game at Southeast High School in Springfield, Ill., the star quarterback decided to make things right. Haasis set the Central State Eight Conference record for career passing yards in the final minute of a loss to Cahokia High in 2003, but he remembers thinking it was strange that Cahokia's defenders backed 20 yards off the line of scrimmage and made no attempt to defend or tackle the receiver who caught his record-setting pass. The next day, the local newspaper reported that the coaches had made a deal to allow Haasis to set the record, a story both coaches confirmed. "I had my guys put their arms in their jerseys so they couldn't tackle," Cahokia's coach later said.

Three days after the game, Haasis decided to write a letter to the director of the conference, requesting that his final pass be omitted from the conference record book. "I would like to preserve the integrity and sportsmanship of a great conference for future athletes," Haasis wrote. His request was granted.

6. Matt Ziesel

A friendly agreement between opposing teams isn't always unsportsmanlike, however. In the case of two Missouri high school freshman football teams, one such deal led to one of the more heartwarming sports stories in recent memory. St. Joseph Benton trailed Maryville 46-0 with 10 seconds to play in its third game of the 2009 season when Benton head coach Dan McCamy called a timeout. McCamy inserted freshman Matt Ziesel, who was born with Down syndrome, at running back, and ran across the field to the Maryville freshman defensive coach with an odd request. "Most teams would want a shutout, but in this situation I want to know if maybe you can let one of my guys run in for a touchdown," McCamy said. Maryville's players were happy to oblige. They attempted to make the play seem as real as possible by trailing in pursuit of Ziesel, who didn't participate in full-contact drills in practice and had yet to play in a game, as he raced 60 yards untouched into the end zone.

"When they grow up and they get older, everybody will realize the impact that maybe that play (has) had—not just on that kid's life, because Matt will remember that forever—but on some of these other kids and what they may have been a part of," McCamy told the Kansas City Star. For more on this story, including the backlash from people who were critical of the play, check out ESPN's E:60 report:

7. Paolo Di Canio

During a 2000 English Premier League match between West Ham and Everton, Paolo Di Canio displayed an act of sportsmanship that, as one reporter wrote, "will live longer than the forgettable game it accompanied." With the match tied in extra time, Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard injured his knee after leaving the net to challenge a West Ham striker. While Gerrard lay writhing in pain, another West Ham player sent a cross toward Di Canio, who waited in front of the wide-open goal. Rather than receiving the pass and scoring the go-ahead goal, Di Canio caught the ball to allow Gerrard to be treated. His unselfish act drew a standing ovation and earned him FIFA's Fair Play Award in 2001.

8. Pete Goss

On Christmas Day in 1996, a month and a half into the round-the-world Vendee Globe yacht race, English sailor Pete Goss received a mayday notification. Competitor Raphael Dinelli's yacht had wrecked in a storm in the Southern Ocean and the Frenchman needed help. Goss decided to abandon course and attempt a daring rescue of Dinelli, which required sailing his yacht, Acqua Quorom, into hurricane-force winds. While Goss's yacht was knocked down several times en route, he eventually found Dinelli with the aid of an Australian Air Force plane. Since the rescue, France awarded Goss the Legion d'Honneur and the two men have become close friends.

9. Central Washington University

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Western Oregon senior outfielder Sara Tucholsky was so excited after she hit her first career home run in an important conference game against Central Washington that she forgot to touch first base. As she reversed direction to properly start what should have been a joyous home run trot, her knee gave out. With Tucholsky unable to continue around the bases under her own power, the umpires, who had misinterpreted an NCAA rule, told Western Oregon coach Pam Knox that if Tucholsky received any assistance from a coach or a trainer while she was an active runner, she would be called out. Tucholsky's only other option was to return to first base, be replaced by a pinch runner, and have her three-run home run ruled a two-run single.

But Central Washington pitcher Mallory Holtman, who had allowed the home run, had a better idea. She asked the umpire if it was within the rule for her and a teammate to carry Tucholsky around the bases. The umpires said it was, and so they did. "I think anyone who knew that we could touch her would have offered to do it, just because it's the right thing to do," Holtman said. Western Oregon held on to win, 4-2.

10. Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce

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Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga had just thrown the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history—except he hadn't. With two outs in the ninth inning of a game against the Indians earlier this season, first base umpire Jim Joyce botched a call that would have sealed the third perfect game of the season. After Joyce ruled that Cleveland's Jason Donald beat first baseman Miguel Cabrera's throw on what should have been the final out of the game, Galarraga, who was covering first, could only smile in disbelief. Joyce admitted his mistake when he watched a replay of the call after the game. "It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [expletive] out of it," Joyce told reporters. "I just cost that kid a perfect game." Joyce felt bad for Galarraga and Galarraga felt bad for Joyce. "You don't see an umpire after the game come out and say, 'Hey, let me tell you I'm sorry,' " Galarraga said. The next day, Joyce was assigned to work as the home plate umpire. Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who had come out of the dugout to berate Joyce the previous night, sent Galarraga out to present the lineup card before the game. Joyce fought back tears as he shook Galaragga's hand and patted him on the back.

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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

How Apple's '1984' Super Bowl Ad Was Almost Canceled

More than 30 years ago, Apple defined the Super Bowl commercial as a cultural phenomenon. Prior to Super Bowl XVIII, nobody watched the game "just for the commercials"—but one epic TV spot, directed by sci-fi legend Ridley Scott, changed all that. Read on for the inside story of the commercial that rocked the world of advertising, even though Apple's Board of Directors didn't want to run it at all.

THE AD

If you haven't seen it, here's a fuzzy YouTube version:

"WHY 1984 WON'T BE LIKE 1984"

The tagline "Why 1984 Won't Be Like '1984'" references George Orwell's 1949 novel 1984, which envisioned a dystopian future, controlled by a televised "Big Brother." The tagline was written by Brent Thomas and Steve Hayden of the ad firm Chiat\Day in 1982, and the pair tried to sell it to various companies (including Apple, for the Apple II computer) but were turned down repeatedly. When Steve Jobs heard the pitch in 1983, he was sold—he saw the Macintosh as a "revolutionary" product, and wanted advertising to match. Jobs saw IBM as Big Brother, and wanted to position Apple as the world's last chance to escape IBM's domination of the personal computer industry. The Mac was scheduled to launch in late January of 1984, a week after the Super Bowl. IBM already held the nickname "Big Blue," so the parallels, at least to Jobs, were too delicious to miss.

Thomas and Hayden wrote up the story of the ad: we see a world of mind-controlled, shuffling men all in gray, staring at a video screen showing the face of Big Brother droning on about "information purification directives." A lone woman clad in vibrant red shorts and a white tank-top (bearing a Mac logo) runs from riot police, dashing up an aisle towards Big Brother. Just before being snatched by the police, she flings a sledgehammer at Big Brother's screen, smashing him just after he intones "We shall prevail!" Big Brother's destruction frees the minds of the throng, who quite literally see the light, flooding their faces now that the screen is gone. A mere eight seconds before the one-minute ad concludes, a narrator briefly mentions the word "Macintosh," in a restatement of that original tagline: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.'" An Apple logo is shown, and then we're out—back to the game.

In 1983, in a presentation about the Mac, Jobs introduced the ad to a cheering audience of Apple employees:

"... It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and -controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?"

After seeing the ad for the first time, the Apple audience totally freaked out (jump to about the 5-minute mark to witness the riotous cheering).

SKINHEADS, A DISCUS THROWER, AND A SCI-FI DIRECTOR

Chiat\Day hired Ridley Scott, whose 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner had the dystopian tone they were looking for (and Alien wasn't so bad either). Scott filmed the ad in London, using actual skinheads playing the mute bald men—they were paid $125 a day to sit and stare at Big Brother; those who still had hair were paid to shave their heads for the shoot. Anya Major, a discus thrower and actress, was cast as the woman with the sledgehammer largely because she was actually capable of wielding the thing.

Mac programmer Andy Hertzfeld wrote an Apple II program "to flash impressive looking numbers and graphs on [Big Brother's] screen," but it's unclear whether his program was used for the final film. The ad cost a shocking $900,000 to film, plus Apple booked two premium slots during the Super Bowl to air it—carrying an airtime cost of more than $1 million.

WHAT EXECUTIVES AT APPLE THOUGHT

Although Jobs and his marketing team (plus the assembled throng at his 1983 internal presentation) loved the ad, Apple's Board of Directors hated it. After seeing the ad for the first time, board member Mike Markkula suggested that Chiat\Day be fired, and the remainder of the board were similarly unimpressed. Then-CEO John Sculley recalled the reaction after the ad was screened for the group: "The others just looked at each other, dazed expressions on their faces ... Most of them felt it was the worst commercial they had ever seen. Not a single outside board member liked it." Sculley instructed Chiat\Day to sell off the Super Bowl airtime they had purchased, but Chiat\Day principal Jay Chiat quietly resisted. Chiat had purchased two slots—a 60-second slot in the third quarter to show the full ad, plus a 30-second slot later on to repeat an edited-down version. Chiat sold only the 30-second slot and claimed it was too late to sell the longer one. By disobeying his client's instructions, Chiat cemented Apple's place in advertising history.

When Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak heard that the ad was in trouble, he offered to pony up half the airtime costs himself, saying, "I asked how much it was going to cost, and [Steve Jobs] told me $800,000. I said, 'Well, I'll pay half of it if you will.' I figured it was a problem with the company justifying the expenditure. I thought an ad that was so great a piece of science fiction should have its chance to be seen."

But Woz didn't have to shell out the money; the executive team finally decided to run a 100-day advertising extravaganza for the Mac's launch, starting with the Super Bowl ad—after all, they had already paid to shoot it and were stuck with the airtime.

1984 - Big Brother

WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE THOUGHT

When the ad aired, controversy erupted—viewers either loved or hated the ad, and it spurred a wave of media coverage that involved news shows replaying the ad as part of covering it, leading to estimates of an additional $5 million in "free" airtime for the ad. All three national networks, plus countless local markets, ran news stories about the ad. "1984" become a cultural event, and served as a blueprint for future Apple product launches. The marketing logic was brilliantly simple: create an ad campaign that sparked controversy (for example, by insinuating that IBM was like Big Brother), and the media will cover your launch for free, amplifying the message.

The full ad famously ran once during the Super Bowl XVIII (on January 22, 1984), but it also ran the month prior—on December 31, 1983, TV station operator Tom Frank ran the ad on KMVT at the last possible time slot before midnight, in order to qualify for 1983's advertising awards.* (Any awards the ad won would mean more media coverage.) Apple paid to screen the ad in movie theaters before movie trailers, further heightening anticipation for the Mac launch. In addition to all that, the 30-second version was aired across the country after its debut on the Super Bowl.

Chiat\Day adman Steve Hayden recalled: "We ran a 30- second version of '1984' in the top 10 U.S. markets, plus, in an admittedly childish move, in an 11th market—Boca Raton, Florida, headquarters for IBM's PC division." Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld ended his remembrance of the ad by saying:

"A week after the Macintosh launch, Apple held its January board meeting. The Macintosh executive staff was invited to attend, not knowing what to expect. When the Mac people entered the room, everyone on the board rose and gave them a standing ovation, acknowledging that they were wrong about the commercial and congratulating the team for pulling off a fantastic launch.

Chiat\Day wanted the commercial to qualify for upcoming advertising awards, so they ran it once at 1 AM at a small television station in Twin Falls, Idaho, KMVT, on December 15, 1983 [incorrect; see below for an update on this -ed]. And sure enough it won just about every possible award, including best commercial of the decade. Twenty years later it's considered one of the most memorable television commercials ever made."

THE AWFUL 1985 FOLLOW-UP

A year later, Apple again employed Chiat\Day to make a blockbuster ad for their Macintosh Office product line, which was basically a file server, networking gear, and a laser printer. Directed by Ridley Scott's brother Tony, the new ad was called "Lemmings," and featured blindfolded businesspeople whistling an out-of-tune version of Snow White's "Heigh-Ho" as they followed each other off a cliff (referencing the myth of lemming suicide).

Jobs and Sculley didn't like the ad, but Chiat\Day convinced them to run it, pointing out that the board hadn't liked the last ad either. But unlike the rousing, empowering message of the "1984" ad, "Lemmings" directly insulted business customers who had already bought IBM computers. It was also weirdly boring—when it was aired at the Super Bowl (with Jobs and Sculley in attendance), nobody really reacted. The ad was a flop, and Apple even proposed running a printed apology in The Wall Street Journal. Jay Chiat shot back, saying that if Apple apologized, Chiat would buy an ad on the next page, apologizing for the apology. It was a mess:

20-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

In 2004, the ad was updated for the launch of the iPod. The only change was that the woman with the hammer was now listening to an iPod, which remained clipped to her belt as she ran. You can watch that version too:

FURTHER READING

Chiat\Day adman Lee Clow gave an interview about the ad, covering some of this material.

Check out Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld's excellent first-person account of the ad. A similar account (but with more from Jobs's point of view) can found in the Steve Jobs biography, and an even more in-depth account is in The Mac Bathroom Reader. The Mac Bathroom Reader is out of print; you can read an excerpt online, including QuickTime movies of the two versions of the ad, plus a behind-the-scenes video. Finally, you might enjoy this 2004 USA Today article about the ad, pointing out that ads for other computers (including Atari, Radio Shack, and IBM's new PCjr) also ran during that Super Bowl.

* = A Note on the Airing in 1983

Update: Thanks to Tom Frank for writing in to correct my earlier mis-statement about the first air date of this commercial. As you can see in his comment below, Hertzfeld's comments above (and the dates cited in other accounts I've seen) are incorrect. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Frank, in which we discuss what it was like running both "1984" and "Lemmings" before they were on the Super Bowl!

Update 2: You can read the story behind this post in Chris's book The Blogger Abides.

This post originally appeared in 2012.

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