smartThis is encouraging: two opponents making genuine apologies to each other.

As I wrote in a previous post, I’m Sorry, it seems that genuine public apologies are a dying art. More often than not, a public figure saying he’s sorry about anything sounds something like, “It’s unfortunate that some people may have misconstrued something I allegedly did, and that it hurt their feelings.” We have to admit sometimes we men are capable of making the same kind of distorted apologies to our wives or children.

In a refreshing change, two men in a recent skirmish involving Oklahoma State basketball player, Marcus Smart, and a man in the audience, Jeff Orr, supporting the opposing Texas Tech team, chose a different approach. As Smart chased a loose ball into the stands he collided with several Tech fans in the first couple of rows. Smart struggled to regain his balance and return to the court, then suddenly shoved Orr. He had to be pulled away from the fan by teammates as the player and fan had an obviously angry verbal exchange with each other. Click here to see the clip.

The Big 12 Conference suspended Smart for his outburst. The next day he personally apologized to the fan, his teammates and his family, saying, “This is not how I conduct myself. This is not how the program is run. This is not how I was raised. I let my emotions get the best of me. It’s something I’ll have to learn from, a lesson I’ll have to learn from. The consequences that are coming with it—I’m taking full responsibility.

Wow! Nice going, Marcus. You stood up, humbly and courageously, and took responsibility rather than passing it off onto the other guy.

Then in an equally surprising turn of events, Orr, admitted he called Smart “a piece of crap,” the kind of demeaning comment that would certainly light a fuse of anger for most people. Orr then suspended himself from attending any further Texas Tech home or away games the rest of the season.

In a statement released by Texas Tech, Orr said, “I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies to Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, Tubby Smith and the Texas Tech Men’s Basketball program.”

Most of us know what it’s like to do or say something inflammatory in the heat of competition or argument. Both of these men deserved criticism, and consequences, for their conduct. What’s encouraging is that they both agreed, and that they each took personal responsibility for their end of the conflict.

Smart move. Well done.