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Rob Mouw: Redefining Victory

"Dear Rob," begins the hand-scrawled letter, "I read Bob Greene's wonderful column about you. I love sports and true sportsmen. My faith in our future was renewed and lifted by that column. Never lose your principles. Always stand for what's decent and right. That's what you told us all when you refused the victory!" The signature: former President George Bush.

Soccer player Rob Mouw, a senior at Wheaton (Illinois) Christian High School, isn't used to publicity, much less letters from former presidents. But his unusual action in a hotly contested soccer match was reported by local newspapers, and then by nationally syndicated columnist Bob Greene.

In the closing seconds of a game against Waubonsie Valley, a team ranked high in the state, Mouw managed a breakaway and kicked the tying goal. With Wheaton fans cheering the upset and Waubonsie fans protesting the goal was late, Mouw walked to the referee and asked whether the official time was kept on the scoreboard or the referee's stopwatch.

The scoreboard time was official, he was told. Mouw then explained that just before his kick, he had seen zeros on the scoreboard clock. Since he hadn't heard a whistle, he kept playing. But his goal was late, and he didn't think it should count. The referee reversed his call, awarding the game to Waubonsie.

That night, Mouw went home to his homework. "I didn't think much about it," he says. "I hadn't done anything that great. For me, acting honestly was just a reflection of Christ in me."

Bob Greene opened his column with: "If you're sick of the direction sports in this country have been taking--from the preening and taunting of Deion Sanders and his many followers, to the tiresome bickering between millionaire professional athletes and the millionaire owners of their teams--then here's a sports story for you."

And he ended by quoting Mouw: "'Every time in your life you have an opportunity to do right, you should be thankful. For a person to know what right is, and then not to do it--that would be a sin. To have won the game--I mean, really, who cares? Doing the right thing is more important. It lets you have peace.'"

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