bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Olympic sprinter quits before run-off

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Although I am not a big fan of watching the Olympics, I greatly admire the athletes that compete in the games. Most of them are competing in sports that have no shot of making them rich, and real fame is pretty unlikely as well, especially when you compare it to that of someone who plays one of the major professional sports. It is clear that these people are competing for the love of their sport and the love of competition. To spend years working, focusing, and doing little else other than preparing for the Olympics takes an extraordinary person. That is why I find the actions of runner Jeneba Tarmoh so shocking.

A couple of weeks ago, Tarmoh was running in a qualifying race. As she crossed the finish line, the scoreboard listed her in 3rd place, which would have qualified her for the final spot in the individual competition for the 100 meters in the upcoming London Olympics. As she completed a victory lap, she discovered that the finish was being called into question. A video review revealed that she had actually finished in a dead heat with Allyson Felix, her friend and teammate, both having crossed the line in 11.068 seconds. Unfortunately, it seems that the U.S. Olympic team has no established process for breaking this sort of tie. The two athletes and their representatives had to decide between a coin flip or a run-off. As you might expect, they chose the run-off, which was scheduled for this past Monday night. There had been so much discussion of the situation and so much debate about it that the race was going to be televised in prime time, and there was a lot of interest in it leading up to the event. That is when things went wacky. Tarmoh decided to pull out of the race, conceding her spot to Felix. She was unable to get past the disappointment of thinking the spot was hers and finding out otherwise. There is so much about this I do not understand, starting with her statement:

“I worked really, really hard to earn that spot in the 100,” Tarmoh said. “It was more than me winning, it was me practicing since November and training every day. It was me cramping up in the middle of practice, me throwing up at practices. It was me getting mentally prepared, physically prepared, then going to the trials, and making it through each round and staying focused.
“It was me knowing that when I crossed that finish line, that I put my all on the track, waiting for my time to come on the board and seeing what place I got. That’s why it hurt so much, to see that it was my time and my name on the board in third place. All of a sudden someone’s telling me, ‘Sorry, we changed our mind. You didn’t get third. It’s a dead heat.’ It was an emotional roller coaster.”

All of that sounds great until you remember one huge thing: didn’t Felix do all of that as well? Why exactly was Tarmoh entitled to that spot if that is not what the tape showed? Sure, I get that it would have felt unfair in the moment, since the scoreboard initially said she had finished third. I don’t see her disputing the results, though. I don’t think she is accusing anyone of falsifying anything or deliberately screwing with her head. So what is left? There was an initial error, and then a correction was made to get it right, which they did. To simply quit and not run is embarrassing and very unfortunate. It indicates to me that she does not have what it takes to be an Olympic champion, and that the U.S. team should have left her off of its roster entirely. That is not what happened, though. She is still going to the games as part of the pool for the 400 meter relay. Even if team officials feel bad about how this all came out, they should realize that there is no place for quitters at the Olympics.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Wimbledon went on all week, and there were many great moments, along with some others that weren’t so good. On Monday, a line judge was hit square in the face with a Mardy Fish serve, clocked at 118 miles per hour. Check out the video. On the positive side, the judge still managed to make the call.

3) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the player receiving that Mardy Fish serve mentioned above. On Friday, he got hit himself during a match against Andy Murray. He probably wishes he had been hit in the face like that line judge. Instead, he took the shot a little lower.

4) What? A NASCAR race at Daytona ended with almost every car in the field having been involved in a wreck at one point or another? Shocking. I don’t get it.

5) On Thursday, Reggie Jackson, a hall-of-fame baseball player, discussed his thoughts about the problems Alex Rodriguez will likely have getting into the Hall of Fame due to his issues with performance enhancing drugs.  On Friday, Jackson spent a bunch of time apologizing to Rodriguez and to the Yankees, the team for which Jackson played much of his career and for which Rodriguez plays now. Way to stick to your guns, Reggie.

6) Superstar running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was arrested on Saturday and charged with resisting arrest after an altercation with off-duty police officers at a night club in Houston.

7) This weekend, Boston Red Sox pitcher Vicente Padilla accused Yankees first basemen Mark Teixeira of being prejudiced against Latinos while the two were teammates on the Texas Rangers a few years back. I have no idea if there is any truth to his accusation, but the fact that Padilla, in the same interview, showed his own prejudice against women by suggesting that Teixeira should be playing women’s sports instead of men’s undermined his argument, in my opinion.

Good sports:

1) Serena Williams and Roger Federer returned to the role of Wimbledon champions this week.  Williams took home her fifth title at the All-England Club, having last won it in 2010, while Federer won his seventh, and first since 2009.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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2 Responses to “Bad sports, good sports: Olympic sprinter quits before run-off”

  1. I’ll never understand why (or when) people started believing that hard work entitled them to anything at all. Hard work is admirable, but it is not a contract for a guaranteed result. Some don’t see it that way. Weird. Really weird.

  2. Totally agree, Chris.

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