Firstly, congratulations to Sam Stosur on her impressive winning of the 2011 US Open Championship. Secondly, what was the story with Serena Williams?
On one hand, we saw an example of an incredibly gracious sportsperson: Serena congratulating Sam on her win, acknowledging that she had been outplayed by her opponent, even sharing a smile. A picture of humility and respect.
Yet, this is the same athlete who moments before was verbally assaulting the umpire – threatening, insulting and disrespectful.
The question this begs goes way beyond Serena Williams and sport. Is respect something that we can all simply switch on and off? Is it something that we can apply
proportionately to the circumstances?
I suggest that respect, true respect, is a character trait. One either carries an attitude of respect, or disrespect.
Consider this – you may not necessarily respect a person’s behaviour (such as me not respecting Serena Williams’ outburst) but you can (and should) respect the person as a person and respect the position they hold.
In no better arena is this seen in Australia than politics. Political leaders of all persuasions are often held up as objects of ridicule, well beyond the boundaries of what may be considered healthy satire. You may not agree with a leader’s policies however we should be respectful of the position the person holds. The office of the Prime Minister is worthy of our respect, even if we do not align ourselves with the views of the person holding this office. The same goes for all positions of leadership across politics, business, education, church – regardless of the person’s behaviour and opinions, the position is worthy of our respect.
So back to Serena – one minute she’s verbalizing the umpire “if I see you in the corridor don’t even walk past me”, the next she’s admiring the victor “… She (Sam) played really, really well. She’s a great player…”
How do we measure up?
Let hope rise.