Ithink Paul Hamm should give back his Olympic gold medal. Hamm is the U.S. gymnast who came back from a fall to win the gold medal in the men's all-around competition last week.
Except Hamm didn't really win.
You see, the judges miscalculated South Korean gymnast Yang Tae Young's score for one of the six events. If the judges had added Yang's score correctly, Yang, not Hamm, would have had the highest score. But no one noticed the mistake in time and Hamm was awarded the gold medal.
To correct the mistake, I think Hamm should give the medal to Yang and accept the silver medal. After all, this is not like a game where the referee or umpire makes a bad call and one team loses. Here, the judges simply messed up calculating the score. Everyone knows that if they had done it right, Yang would have been the winner.
Of course, it is easy for me to tell Hamm what to do. I haven't worked my whole life to get to the Olympics. You can't expect someone to give up a gold medal or a national championship just because the referee made a mistake, can you? People don't do that. Do they?
Yes, people do.
In 1940, Cornell University was the nation's top-ranked college football team. The Big Red, which hadn't lost in 17 games, was playing Dartmouth College. Late in the game, Dartmouth led 3-0. Cornell got the ball at midfield with a minute and a half left and drove down to the Dartmouth goal line.
In the confusion of the final seconds, the referees gave Cornell a fifth down. (Teams are only supposed to get four.) Cornell used this fifth down to score a winning touchdown on the last play of the game. Like Hamm, the Cornell players did not realize at the time that the referees had made the mistake and so they thought they had won.
After the game, films showed that the referees had given Cornell the bogus fifth down. When the Cornell players found out about the mistake, they voted to give up their win streak and their chance for the national championship and give Dartmouth the 3-0 victory. Cornell did not want a win it did not deserve.
Paul Hamm should do what Cornell did: Give the win to the competitor who deserved it. By doing so, Hamm can show the world that there is more to the Olympics than simply winning. He can show that there is still such a thing as the Olympic spirit and winning the right way. Hamm should stop hiding behind the claim that the Korean officials did not protest the mistake in time, and give the gold medal to the man who earned the most points during the competition.
If he does that, Paul Hamm will be a true Olympic champion.
Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's Friday sports column and is the author of sports novels for kids.
he keep it?