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Friday, August 27, 2004
While We're At It...
FIG asks Hamm to give up gold; USOC outraged
Poor Paul Hamm--the guy just can't win for winning. Here he was, competing in the Olympics--living his dream. And he makes a mistake. He flubs one part of his routine and suddenly, the dreams of his life are going down the drain. No way he can win the gold now, right? He's dropped from top three to twelth place. He might as well pack it up and go home.

But taking a page from the hit movie Galaxy Quest, Hamm decides to "Never give up, never surrender." He pulls it together to put on the routines of his life. He vaults back to the top of the standings, he wins the gold and it's a great story. It shows courage, it shows character and it's refreshing to see an athlete not just give up and phone it in in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Then, the news gets out that there was a mistake made in the scoring. Not by Hamm--he did nothing wrong. He didn't cheat. There was no foul play, no underhanded dealings. Nope, just a human being making a human error. And it appears this error played in Hamm's favor. Understandly, the Korean gymnist who took the silver is upset. I can't blame him a bit. But this isn't like the skating controversy from the last Winter games. Mistakes were made, but they weren't made out of intention or malice.

So why do we keep beating up poor Paul Hamm? Why are many media pundits demanding he return the medal? Why is the FIG now asking him to return it? Did he do something wrong?

No, he didn't. Mistakes were made that affected an outcome. It's not fair, but it happens. If Paul Hamm is required to give up his gold, then I think the New England Patriots should give part of their Super Bowl win a couple of years ago to the Raiders. After all, human error in the interpretation and enforcement of the tuck rule helped them to drive down, tie the game and win in OT. Also, a couple of years ago, the Giants should have had another chance to kick a game-winning field goal over the 49ers. But due to human error, it didn't happen. The Giants were robbed of a chance to possibly keep playing and maybe play in the Super Bowl.

But yet, no one demands these things. So why expect this of Hamm? His keeping his medal is not Un-American. Had he cheated or somehow pulled strings to make this happen, I'd say--hell, yes, give it back. But until that evidence comes out, Hamm should keep his medal and hang his head high. He was down and thought to be out. He came back and won gold by digging down deep and doing what needed to be done. In my mind, that makes him a true Olympic champion and hero.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/27/2004 08:00:00 PM | |
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