Horse owner Steven Coburn’s been in the news this week for comments he made after his horse, California Chrome, lost the third leg of the Triple Crown. His impassioned rant on the injustices of eligibility requirements is not unfounded but came across as poor sportsmanship. Unfortunately, he reiterated his statements the following day.

Coburn’s argument is that horses should be required to compete in the three races that comprise the Triple Crown—the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes—before winning the Triple Crown, as his horse did but the winning horse, Tonalist, did not.

However, on Monday, Coburn publicly and profusely apologized for his words on “Good Morning America.” He apologized to Tonalist’s owner and trainer, his co-owner, fans, all of horse racing and the world as well as his wife who he scolded for trying to calm him down during his tirade. He also congratulated the winners. Coburn ended the interview on the morning show by saying he had to do that because he was wrong.

We all have those moments we desperately wish to reclaim when we were not at our best. It’s particularly embarrassing when our words and actions are revealed to a wide audience, such as what happened with Coburn.

But what I find most impressive about all of this is Coburn’s apology. It was heartfelt and sincere. He admitted his fault without placing blame on anyone else. He courageously admitted to the public that he was wrong.

I find sincere apologies to be rare. How often do we hear, or say, “we are sorry – but?” That “but” negates the apology. It throws the responsibility of the actions on someone or something else.

No doubt, we are going to mess up (again) sometime in the future. I hope when I do I can humbly and contritely admit my guilt and make such an apology as Coburn did.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

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