This replay business has some merit
August 27, 2004
Even now that the Olympics have concluded in Athens, I still cannot forget the controversy surrounding Paul Hamm and his men’s gymnastics all-around gold medal.
It’s just that the entire incident was so unfortunate, not only for Hamm, but for Yang Tae-young of South Korea, who missed the gold medal by .049 of a point. At issue is one-tenth of a point deducted from Yang’s start value in the parallel bars – he received a 9.9 for a routine that had been given a 10 start value in team preliminaries and finals.
Three judges were suspended because of the error, but the International Gymnastics Federation refused to change the results because the South Koreans didn’t protest soon enough after the competition.
I believe Hamm should keep his gold medal. There’s no denying he came through with a clutch performance when the chips were down, and I believe in the concept that once the outcome has been decided, you don’t review the situation and come back with a different result. The day we use replays after-the-fact to decide the outcome of sporting events is going to be a sad one. For you NFL fans, yes, that means I don’t like instant replay.
I mean, shouldn’t Al Davis call the NFL right now to ask for a review of the Dec. 23, 1972 playoff game between the Raiders and Steelers? You remember the “Immaculate Reception” Franco Harris made to beat the Oakland Raiders, right? Did Frenchy Fuqua tip Terry Bradshaw’s pass? If so, that would have nullified the completed pass, so let’s give the win to the Raiders.
How about the Kansas City Royals beating the St. Louis Cardinals on Don Denkinger’s blown call in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series? Let’s ask the Royals to give their championship trophy back to the Cardinals.
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Or the 1954 World Series when the towering drive to center field by Vic Wertz was caught by Willie Mays with his back to the infield. Did Willie really have possession of the ball before he turned and threw the ball back toward the infield? Shouldn’t we take a closer look at some replays? Maybe the Cleveland Indians should be awarded that win, too.
Controversy surrounding judged events at the Olympics is nothing new. Just ask the figure skaters at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City (duplicate medals were awarded after a French judge said she was pressured by her own skating federation to favor the Russians). Or Roy Jones Jr., the victim of a scoring error at 1988 Olympics in Seoul yet still voted Outstanding Boxer of the Games. Or the 1972 USA basketball team after its loss to the Soviet Union in the gold medal game in Munich.
Then again, sometimes a little controversy can help out. Dave Lester says his telephone at Silver State Gymnastics Academy in Carson City has been ringing off the hook since Paul Hamm and the Olympics were seen on prime-time television.
“Interest always seems to pick up this time of year, but we seem to be experiencing a greater interest now because of the Olympics, and I think the controversy surrounding Paul Hamm then Khorkina and her remarks seemed to help, too.”
He was referring to Russian star Svetlana Khorkina, who claimed the women’s all-around competition was already determined before America’s Carly Patterson won the gold. Khorkina settled for the silver medal.
“It’s like, bad press is better than no press at all because the exposure seems to have helped,” Lester said. “You get to watch baseball on TV all the time, but the Olympics are certainly the premiere showcase for gymnastics. That’s the first chance a lot of people are exposed to gymnastics, and they’ll say, ‘Wow, I’d like my child to do that.'”
Silver State Gymnastics offers the first two lessons free of charge for new students, according to Lester, who can be reached at 882-2433.
By the way, the long-time Carson City resident believes the medals were correctly handed out at the conclusion of the Olympic men’s all-around.
“The right people got the right medals,” he said. “Most people don’t understand the process, unless they’ve been involved with the sport. Even if they had given him a start value of 10.0, the judges would have adjusted his score anyway. It’s not about numbers, it’s about placement, and everyone was placed where they should have been.”
Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1214.