Even in agony, classy result

Some of the best stories in sports happen off the playing fields and courts. Consider the aftermath of a World Cup soccer match in Russia recently.

Japan’s team had been leading Belgium, 2-0, during much of the game. Then, in the closing minutes, Belgium came back to win, 3-2.

It was a crushing defeat, leaving some Japanese fans in tears.

It would have been understandable had the Japanese team left in a hurry, perhaps with a few displays of anger at the loss.

They did not. They took the time to clean their locker room, leaving it spotless. Then, they left behind a note, written in Russian, thanking their hosts.

Sports builds character, it has been said. Clearly, it did for the Japanese team.