IF YOU WERE PAUL HAMM, WHAT WOULD YOU DO -- GIVE BACK YOUR GOLD MEDAL OR CONTINUE TO WEAR IT PROUDLY?
You probably know most of the details by now. If you've been traveling the world with Ricky Williams, however, we'll review the facts in the judging controversy surrounding the men's gymnastics all-around final at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens:
He should keep it | From Carrie Sheinberg
Everybody just stop. Lay off Paul Hamm. And stop suggesting that he should give back his gold medal. Anyone stuck on that idea must still be yelling for the Patriots to give their 2002 Superbowl trophy back, and the 1960 Soviet Union basketball team to give their gold medal back. Get over it.
So the judges made a mistake. I guarantee you it wasn't the only one they made that night. And you can't go back, it's not as simple as that. Who's to say that had Yang Tae-young been scored "properly" and consequently headed to the final apparatus in the lead, that he wouldn't have crumbled under the pressure?
If you want to cry that he deserved the extra tenth of a point for degree of difficulty, then you also have to scream for the two-tenths reduction he should have received for performing four hold moves when he was only allowed three.
The point is: athletes who compete in judged sports must resign themselves to the fact that judges are human. Most of these athletes have accepted that. Sometimes the judges like you, sometimes they don't. If you don't like it, go ski race, which was my choice as an athlete. The clock doesn't lie. People do.
Paul Hamm did nothing but put together a jaw-dropping comeback and an overall performance that was unquestionably worth its weight in gold. That is what makes him a champion. The only thing people should be calling for him to hand over, is a bowl of Wheaties, poured from the box with his picture on it.
Give it back, become immortal | From Jim Caple
I didn't burn one calorie or sweat a single drop over the past decade training to be an Olympic gymnast. So far be it for me to tell Paul Hamm what to do with the gold medal he worked so hard for so long to earn. This is his decision, and it should be based strictly on this one choice: Does he want to keep a gold medal in his trophy case, or be remembered by anyone outside his immediate family?Hamm is a male gymnast, and as much as people are talking about him now, his name will be so forgotten by the first weekend of the NFL season that not even Ken Jennings will be able to identify him. Alex Trebec: This male gymnast won the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics due to an incorrect scoring decision. Jennings: Sorry, Alex, I have absolutely no idea. If, however, Hamm gives the medal back and accepts the silver, he'll be so identified as a symbol of sportsmanship that Bela Karolyi will personally carry him from talk show to talk show for the rest of his life.
"Gymmy" can't read | From Ray Ratto
Ignoring for a moment the fact that you always get this sort of thing in gymnastics and figure skating because the judges are often either cheats or bunglers, let's consider this Paul Hamm issue in its most basic form.
After all, this is the equivalent of your team losing the World Series because the umpires forgot how many runs a home run is worth, and then having the commissioner's office say, "Yes, it's worth one, but we're still going to make it a half because we don't want to fuss with all the paperwork."Yeah, that'd go over well. Now if Hamm were in Yang's place, my fellow Americans, you would be screeching purple murder with a clawhammer, and you damned well know it. But it isn't, so you're fine with it. Proud moment for you, I guess. The charitable thing would be to let Hamm keep the gold because he shouldn't have to endure the humiliation of losing something he thought he'd earned because the judges are morons, and in the everybody-plays-everybody-wins culture of the day, we can probably all live with that. But that's still Yang's medal hanging around Hamm's neck, which proves yet again that if you're having any electrical work done around your house by a gymnastics official, save time and call the fire department now.
As usual, blame the coaches | From Seth Wickersham
If I were Paul Hamm, right after I thought about being on "The Today Show" and Letterman and Wheaties boxes and why God made my nose straight and Morgan's a tad crooked, I'd keep telling myself and anyone who wants to listen that it's my medal, and I'm not giving it up.
WWBD? | From Michael Knisley
Whenever I'm faced with an ethical dilemma of this magnitude, I turn to the moral compass on which I can always rely to guide me toward truth, justice and the American way.
My precious! Oh, my precious! | From Eric Neel
The gold medal is like the One Ring. Once you've held it in your hands, there's no letting go.
People will tell young Paul to surrender the gold medal now. They will tell him it is the right and noble thing to do. Some will even say that such a magnanimous gesture will immortalize him, will mean far more to his reputation than any medal ever could.These people are innocents. They are fools. They believe in Superman and Santa Claus. Their heads are in the clouds. They deal in willowy abstractions and utopian dreams. They are underestimating the gold medal. They are discounting the feel, the heft, and the shine of the gold medal. They cannot imagine how it stirs a man's blood just to hold it, just to wear it around his neck. They do not realize the power it lets loose in his arms and legs. They fail to understand the way it feeds his deepest desires and answers his most existential cries. Give it back? Never. There is no giving back the gold. You clutch the gold. You hold it close to your breast, turn off the lights, draw the shades, lock the door, and rock gently to sleep. And if they come for you, if they come to take your precious, you run. You go underground. You go Abbie Hoffman. You hide, relocate, slip in and out of costumes and voices, wander the earth, and eventually, inevitably, you live in alone in a cold, dark cave in the mountains. You have no life and no friends. You are the object of worldwide derision; the very mention of your name causes people to spit and curse. But you have the gold medal. Your precious. And they can't take that away from you.
Let's go to the WHOLE video tape | From Jeff Merron
Hamm is in a no-win situation (literally, now, since the judges have been penalizing him in the individual events for their own errors in the all-around). But the South Koreans shouldn't be allowed to have it both ways. They go to the videotape to look at scoring errors that boost Yang Tae-young's score, then the video's also in play to see whether there were any errors that perhaps detracted from Yang's score. Which there were.
Human frailty: the spice of life | From Patrick Hruby
Keep it. Give it back. I don't care. All I know is this: I'm already satisfied. And I want more judging, not less.
A mediocre hell | From Steve Woodward
If we had to return everything collected when human beings have lost their minds, that means all stock profits in 1999 and 2000 should be handed over. It is unfair, is it not, that Yahoo! once traded well north of $200 per share. Why that's just wrong! We know that any profit give-back movement ain't gonna happen.