August 16, 2008

Lack of Integrity

Yesterday, a disappointing event occurred during the semifinal match in the men's Olympic tennis tournament. American James Blake was facing off against Chilean Fernando Gonzalez. The following happened at a critical time in the final set:
Blake powered a forehand toward Gonzalez, who was standing close to the net. The ball flew long but Blake immediately claimed it had brushed his opponent’s racket.

Television replays backed up his assertion.

But umpire Yan Kuszak saw nothing, and Gonzalez remained mute at the back of the court instead of calling a point against himself.
This was an important point in a match that would decide who would advance into the Gold Medal match (and be assured an Olympic medal since the loser would get the Silver). The loser would have to play for the Bronze Medal.

This was Blake's chance to get an Olympic medal, and he lost his opportunity because of unfair play by his opponent. Gonzalez should have admitted that the ball hit his racket (anyone who's played tennis understands that it's impossible not to know when the ball his your racket). But he didn't. He remained silent, and took the point (and eventually the match) away from Blake.

It is during important moments like this that a person's true characteristics come through. Gonzalez's integrity took a major hit because of this incident. He wanted to get into the gold medal match so badly that he did something dishonest. Blake did an excellent job explaining why Gonzalez should be ashamed:
“Playing in the Olympics, in what’s supposed to be considered a gentleman’s sport, that’s a time to call it on yourself,” said a fuming Blake in his post-match news conference. “Fernando looked me square in the eye and didn’t call it.

“If that happened the other way, I never would have finished the match because my father would have pulled me off the court if I had acted that way.”
We need more people in this world to be raised with the standards and integrity that Blake's parents instilled in him. It's a shame that he has lost out on this opportunity because of Gonzalez's dishonesty.

This is also a horrible situation because James Blake is considered one of the nicest players in professional tennis, who constantly exhibits excellent sportsmanship. Now, I wonder if he'll be a bit scarred by this. As he said in his post-match conference:
“We know when it (the ball) touches us,” said Blake. “So that’s where it comes into calling it on yourself because it’s the right thing to do.

“Should I expect him to do that? Maybe not. Maybe I shouldn’t expect people to hold themselves to high standards of sportsmanship. But yes, I did expect it a little more so in the Olympics when we’re all competing under the banner of this event being to promote sportsmanship and goodwill among countries.
Blake, who is so highly respected, now leaves the Beijing Olympics without a medal. He ended up losing in the Bronze Medal match. I am deeply heartbroken for him. I used to like Fernando Gonzalez, but his lack of integrity in this situation will forever mar him in my eyes.

August 9, 2008

Olympic Disgrace

Once again, an Iranian athlete has refused to compete against an Israeli. This time it is an Iranian swimmer, Mohammad Alirezaei, who refused to be in the pool at the same time as Tom Beeri, a swimmer representing Israel. It should be noted that they weren't even scheduled to swim next to each other - Alirezaei was in Lane 1 and Beeri was on the other side of the pool in Lane 7.

This pathetic display also happened during the 2004 Olympics in Athens:
"During the 2004 Athens Olympics, Iran's judo world champion Arash Miresmaeili, one of the country's prominent gold medal hopes, refused to compete against Ehud Vaks of Israel in the first round out of solidarity for the Palestinian cause."
This is an absolute disgrace (and I'll even call it cowardly). Instead of competing against (and wanting to prove yourself against) an athlete from a country in conflict with your own, these Iranians backed down. They are representative of the bullies in school who pick on other kids, challenging them to a fight...after school near the jungle gym (knowing full well that the other kid would be too afraid to show up). Yet, when arriving at the jungle gym to find the other kid ready to throw down, the bully remembers he's got to get home for chores.

Their actions (or inactions) are the antithesis of the bravery shown by many Olympic athletes in history. Think about the great athletes who were not afraid to step into that unwelcoming environment to prove themselves. Jesse Owens comes to mind.
"Jesse entered the 1936 Olympics, which to many are known as the "Hitler Olympics." These games were held in Nazi Germany, and Hitler was going to prove to the world that the German "Aryan" people were the dominant race. Jesse had different plans, however, and by the end of the games even German fans cheered for him."
Also frustrating is that there are many, many swimmers who didn't qualify for the Olympics who would have loved to be in that race. Instead, the race goes on with an empty lane.

Since this is a repeated offense (and looks to continue), I would like for the IOC to punish Iran by not allowing any of their athletes to compete (until they agree to participate in the spirit of the Games). Until then, they could give Alirezaei's spot (and spots of other Iranian cowards like him) to someone who would have cherished the moment and the opportunity to compete in the Olympics.

August 8, 2008

Waste of Space

This is a perfect example as to why I think the government is too large. We need less law makers and more law enforcement.

The 110th Congress has passed 74 laws that rename post offices. Really? This is where my tax money goes?

They have also passed...
"hundreds of resolutions, including one to recognize soil as an “essential resource” and another to congratulate the UC-Irvine volleyball team."
What a waste of time and resources. They should all be recalled.