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Recently, an article was published, in a sports blog, about two sixteen year-old rowers who gave up a possible medal win to help their opponents. Philadelphia Episcopal Academy rowers had a fairly good lead and a good start to their race, but soon turned back around to help two opponents, whose boat had capsized. The two students, James Konopka and Nick Mead, waited with their opponents until they were safely transported out of the water. For most sixteen year-old boys, this would have been the end of their good acts, but instead the two boys insisted on finishing the race. Their coaches were dumbfounded when Konopka and Mead came in last, but when the boys explained what had happened, the coaches’ shame and frustration quickly turned to admiration and awe.

I can’t lie and say that when I read this article, I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I was shocked to hear that two boys would do so much for their opponents.¬†Giving up a big lead to help people you didn’t even know must have been a huge decision for Konopka and Mead. I can only imagine what the two boys must have been thinking when they crossed the finish line, knowing they had done something good for someone else.

Sue Wicks once said, “I think sportsmanship is knowing that it is a game, that we are only as a good as our opponents, and whether you win or lose, to always give 100 percent.” Konopka and Mead embodied this when they turned around to help their opponents. In my opinion, Mead and Konopka did, in fact, give their 100 percent-through their sportsmanship and through their efforts to be mensches, whether they knew it or not.

The point is: you don’t have to look for opportunities to be a mensch. Sometimes, in the most unexpected moments, the time will come when you need to choose between doing something for yourself, or doing something good for another person. You don’t have to change their lives, just help them if they need it.

In those moments, think to yourself: What would a mensch do?

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