Hamm and cheese

The Olympics are, and should always be, a competition in the spirit of fair play. The effort you give is more important than the actual results, much like the Canada's Fitness test we used to have to do ever year. We used to compete in a decathlon of stupid events such as pushups, flexed arm hang and standing long jump. I know this may seem like a odd analogy, but in Grade 5, I needed a 1.75 metre jump in the standing long jump to reach the award of excellence. As anyone who has seen me play hoops can attest to, jumping is not my Joe Forte. I leaped a disappointing 1.57 m. I came up short, even though for the first time in my life, my rail thin arms held up long enough in the flex arm hang for the excellence mark. However, when Peggy Doig recorded my score of 1.75 m, I was propelled to the Award of Excellence. Did I earn it, hell no, but man o man, I wanted my Award of Excellence. However, even then, as a little kid, I knew I was wrong and that I didn't earn it.

Up steps American gymnast, Paul Hamm. In an unbelievable comeback, he performed above and beyond expectations, and won the Gold medal. His clutch performances shocked all that watched. No one can ever take that away from him. When it came time to perform, he delivered. Unfortunately, because of another scoring blunder, Hamm's victory was false. The medal should have gone to a Korean gymnast. Despite the admission of the blunder, the governing body cannot overturn the decision. Hamm gets to keep his medal.

Hamm has been seen on talk shows and has been enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame, not aware of the consequences of his actions. In the record books, he is the champion, but in the minds of people all over the world, he is just someone who won't give up what isn't his. This is the Olympics. It is a competition that has been built on fair play. All Hamm had to do, was admit the medal was not his, and hand it to Yang Tae-Young . His fifteen minutes of fame instantly becomes much more. He goes from a gymnast to a cultural icon for America. He becomes a story that makes America less cold and less concerned with oppressing any other country to win.

I know winning a gold medal is a feat that cannot be compared to anything I have experienced, so I am sure, handing over the medal you train for years for would be difficult. I also know that a gold medal in gymnastics isn't like printing money. They aren't making Gymkata 2, and Mitch Gaylord's movie career quickly turned to softcore porn so I don't know if Hamm realizes they aren't going to be making a powerade flavor in his honor. Chances are, after a couple of years, Hamm will be serving up Hamm and Cheese hoagies after his attempt to become the next Bela Karoli fails. If he hands over that medal, he becomes an instant spokesman for America, for fair play, helping to break down the evil stereotypes that people around the world have of Americans (whether or not these are valid, well....).

I know you might be saying, "shit, if you get handed the winnings of a lottery, but didn't match the number, would you give it back?" Probably not. But the lottery is an exercise in gluttony, people trying to be rich. The Olympics are a 100 year old competition that was built on the foundation of everything sports used to be. For every Dream Team, for every doped up athlete, and for every Paul Hamm, we move farther away from the goal of sports, and into the methodology of War. Win at all Costs, so we can hear our anthem played for all to hear.


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