June 8, 2012

A Timeless Lesson from the World of Sports

Sometimes life has a funny and unique way of reminding us of the most important things. For a brief moment this past week—hidden behind all the noise that fills the news—a high school athlete from West Liberty-Salem High School in Ohio reminded us of our need to stop to truly consider the things that matter most.

Meghan Vogel, a junior at West Liberty-Salem, was 20 feet from the finish line in the Division III state finals for the 3200 meter race when one of her competitors, Arden McMath, a sophomore from Arlington High School, collapsed in front of her. Instead of continuing on and placing higher than she might have otherwise, Vogel stopped and helped McMath across the finish line. In fact, as the various news reports recounted, she even made sure McMath finished first because she was ahead of her when she collapsed. And as she did, the assembled crowd rose to their feet and rightly cheered on both Vogel and McMath.

Meghan Vogel helps rival runner, Arden McMath across the finish line at a state track meet.

(Photos: James Miller/The Marion Star via AP; Mike Ullery/The Daily Call via AP)

(Video, New York Daily News via The News Herald. Read more:http://nydn.us/KRu3DE)

It was one of the most memorable and selfless moments in sportsmanship in the recent past. And because the young people about whom the article is written are part of what we call Generation Z—supposedly the most digitally–focused generation in our history—it makes this act all the more noteworthy.

There is much more here for all of us. Vogel’s act of selflessness was and will continue to be rightly acknowledged, but our action in response should not end there. As people who possess both individual identities and membership in our world, it’s important for us to listen to our own call to action. We were reminded this past week that sometimes—maybe even more times than not—winning is not about hitting the finish line before everyone else, but ensuring everyone has the same opportunities to finish accordingly.

As we endeavor to grow and expand the reach of The Northwood Idea, we would do well to keep the example of these two young student-athletes in the forefront of everything we do. At times, each of us will excel and it’s imperative for us to we encourage and help others to do the same. Other times we might be so consumed with our work and daily lives that we may find ourselves in need of a helping hand to see our task or objective through to the finish. In both instances, we should act with the dignity worthy of our University, our tradition, and of ourselves.

As we are reminded, it’s not doing great things that matters most in life but doing little things with great love.

Make this an exceptional weekend for you and all those around you!


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640