stoner steps

    Sports is a world unto itself. On the field, court, rink or course there is nothing else than what is in between those two lines.

    Sports has its own laws, its own language, its own traditions and legends. There is something about sports that appeals to people across the world, a magical blend of competition, dedication, skill and heart that infuses the minds of man and woman, young and old, rich and poor alike.

    Ever soaked in the atmosphere at a sold-out sporting event? Thousands of fans hanging on every hit, throw, jump, shot, catch — it is an awesome experience that few can match. At many colleges students have the opportunity to experience this environment almost weekly, while I don’t see that ever happening at UCSD unless we get a football team or move up to Division I.

    But this beautiful, secluded dimension from the “”real”” world can easily be shattered. The outside world sometimes crosses those boundary lines and infuses the supposedly separate sacrosanct sporting world, poisoning it with the tainting outside influences of money, politics, culture — robbing sports of their beauty and magic with the harsh, cold realities of the outside world.

    Sometimes the taint is extremely noticeable; often times it’s not.

    At the last Olympics, it was extremely noticeable when French ice skating judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne threw her vote toward a Russian ice skating pair that committed a grossly huge technical error over Canadian ice skating duo Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. The vote gave the Russian pair the gold medal, but when Le Gougne admitted to having been pressured “”to vote a certain way”” by her ice skating federation president, Didier Gailhaguet, Sale and Pelletier were also awarded gold medals.

    Six days ago, the International Skating Union dispensed their sanctions for this obvious violation of ethics.

    The ruling against Le Gougne and Gailhaguet for violating the world’s most prominent sporting event, for throwing away morals, ethics, responsibility and for putting the two pairs of ice skaters through hell: a three-year suspension and exclusion from the 2006 Olympics. That’s it.

    Bullshit. Bullshit.

    These people blatantly ignored the rules and picked a gold medalist based not on the skaters’ performance but on some lobbying pressure from outside influences. Yet the ISU is going to let them return in three years. If the ISU’s wrist slap were any lighter it might be confused with a gentle breeze.

    I think both Le Gougne and Gailhaguet ought to have received lifetime bans from ice skating, the sport they made a mockery of. They both proved they don’t have respect for the sport that they are supposed to represent with the most important thing that exists in the sporting world: fairness.

    People view athletic events as an ideal world, a place where the principles of justice, fairness and equality are actually upheld as opposed to just spouted. When the integrity of the game is tampered with in front of millions of people — especially the Olympic Games — there should be the type of harsh punishment that will deter anyone else from doing something like that.

    Look at Pete Rose. In my opinion, what Le Gougne did was far worse than Rose’s transgression, yet he can never set foot near baseball again, while Le Gougne can actually judge again in three years. Imagine the ice skaters who will have to accept her rulings now. There will always be a question of whether her rulings will be fair.

    Think of the athletes she’s already damaged. Right now there is no world’s-best in pair figure skating — both the Russian and Canadian couples were given gold medals. Sale and Pelletier announced their retirement, saying it wasn’t due to the scandal, but, really, what else could it be?

    Despite Le Gougne’s protests, she is clearly culpable. Her and Gailhaguet’s character became clear when they both threatened to unveil heavy corruption in the world of ice skating … as soon as they talk to a lawyer.

    It is corrupt people like these who taint the crystal-clear world of sports. They ruin the magic for the competitors and the spectators, and they force back upon us the dreary world from which we have turned to sports to escape.

    There is no penalty harsh enough for those who shatter dreams, and a minor suspension before allowing them back into judging positions is ridiculous. They should not be allowed to come back in three years and have power over competitors, they should be banished from the dream forever to the nightmare of the real world.

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