The incident that follows was reported at Sports Illustrated.com. Stephen Covey cites it in his book, The Speed of Trust. It occurred on a tennis court in Rome, in 2005, during an Italian tournament of major importance. Here’s what happened.
Andy Roddick was paired against Fernando Verdasco of Spain. The contest reached match point, Roddick’s favor. Verdasco’s second serve was called “out”by the line judge. It appeared the game was over. Roddick saw things others missed. He said the ball was “in” and called the umpire’s attention to a slight indentation on the clay court. The evidence was unmistakable. The ball had landed on–not beyond–the line. The umpire allowed Roddick to overrule him and awarded the point to Verdasco.
Roddick lost the tennis match with a call against himself. A call that exemplified standing firmly by the rules of the game, even when the stand was costly. It was an act of integrity, in its purest light, for the real meaning of integrity is the capacity to stand by an idea, an ideal, a standard, a value, though to do so is difficult and unprofitable.
The tennis player may have lost the match, but his doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons will bear priceless fruit. He will gain– in trust–credibility–respect. From here on in, whenever he walks on the court racket in hand, his impeccable reputation will precede him. Covey calls it a “Roddick Choice”–demonstrating integrity even when the costs are high, higher than many will pay in this day and age.