What Would You Have Done?

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Hi again, y'all...I recently heard about the following real-life news story:

Two American Olympic hopefuls, Kay Poe and Esther Kim, have been best friends for 13 years. They were both competing for the sole spot in their weight division on the 2000 Summer Olympic team in women's taekwondo, a Korean martial art. The first woman, Kay Poe, is generally regarded as the better fighter and also one of America's best chances for a medal in that event, being ranked #1 in the world in the flyweight division. During the US Olympic qualifying tournament held a few weeks ago, the two women worked their way through the tournament draw and were scheduled to face one another in the final round, with the winner going to the Olympics.

Unfortunately, Kay Poe badly dislocated her knee during the previous round and was barely able to stand for her final match against Esther Kim. Kim then decided to forfeit the match to Poe, in order to give her friend the spot on the team. Although Poe's injury was serious, she is expected to be healed in time for the September games. Both women have been chasing Olympic dreams for a long time, ever since they were little girls studying taekwondo. And if Kay Poe had been healthy, Esther Kim certainly would have tried her best to beat her friend and make the US team, even if she was the underdog. But because Poe was injured, Kim forfeited.

If you were Kim, what would you have done, and why?

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000


I would have taken the "victory" and gone to the Olympics. Sports is riddled with luck, some bad and some good. Obviously, Poe saw her share of bad luck but no guartantee she'll be healed in time for the games. (The best laid plans sometimes go awry.) You learn in sports to play out the game and whatever happens, happens. Life isn't fair sometimes.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), June 23, 2000.

Hopefully the same thing. Forfeiting to her rival was the hardest choice for her to make but the most unselfish. There is enough clawing and stepping on the backs of others on your way to the 'top of the heap' in our world today. Failure to do things such as this make us no better than an animal.

God gave us a higher 'calling' if you will, than to act the same as animals do.

-- Stop The Murder (abortion@kills_our_kids.com), June 23, 2000.

I'm glad to see that most here would have taken the high road. Not me, I would have grabbed the nearest club and done a Nancy Kerrigan on her other knee. I wouldn't have even said I'm sorry when I was done.

-- Butt Nugget (catsbutt@umailme.com), June 23, 2000.

Stop, give me a break! Unselfish?! How do you know what Kim is thinking? Maybe she's filled with self-doubt. Maybe she was assuming all along that Poe would win and resigned herself to the fact that she wouldn't go. Sports is just as much mental as it is physical, maybe even more so. Have you ever played sports, Stop? Competition is good not an evil that needs to be stomped out. "Clawing and stepping" is what competition is all about. You also learn is sports how to be gracious about both your winnings and your losings. Sounds like your liberal thinking here would rather see no competition in sports. I wonder how that would play out.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), June 23, 2000.

Maria, I'll tell you how it would play out. The NBA finals would an exicting match-up of the Los Angelos Clippers vs. The Dallas Mavericks.

-- ,-, (comma@dash.comma), June 23, 2000.

I totally agree with everything Maria has said.

(And LOL, Butt Nugget. Good to see ya chimin' in again.)

-- CD (costavike@hotmail.com), June 23, 2000.

There's nothing wrong with competition. I'm strongly in favor of it, along with all associated honors that accompany it. I just feel there are times to do this type of thing and this time seemed appropriate.

Fair weather friends are a dime a dozen. A friend willing to do something as unselfish as this, is a rare find. I would be honored to have and be called a friend to someone like this.

-- Stop The Murder (abortion@kills_our_kids.com), June 23, 2000.

If I were Poe, I would not want the rules to be sidestepped for my benefit. Therefore, if I were Kim, I would have accepted the Olympic berth.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), June 23, 2000.

I'm not so sure I would want someone so 'nice' representing my country in a taekwondo match in the Olympics. Hopefully, Kay was the meaner of the two anyway (and a quick healer!).


-- Deano (deano@luvthebeach.com), June 23, 2000.

Wow -- blistering response -- and very interesting food for thought from y'all -- for the short time this has been up. Keep 'em comin', folks!

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000.

Kim made a terrible mistake. I would have whooped Poe's ass and taken the spot....NOT because it is cut-throat, but because you should do the BEST you possibly can if you are to represent your country at the Olympic Games.

This may sound heartless to some of you, but you need to realize that every competitor worth their salt will review the finals from every country that is entering...and they will have seen Poe's knee injury. That knee....will become a target. Oh, it is illegal to overtly strike the knee, but there are many many ways to get away with it (trust me, I've seen it happen). The fact is she has a knee injury, and there is NO WAY that joint will every be full strength by sept. And NOW....the U.S. may have just lost a medal because of one persons "kindness".

If I were Poe, I would be angry at Kim for doing this to me....not thankful that she valued our friendship above the chance to realize a life-long dream. Did Kim ever think that Poe might have been there to cheer her to victory; and want to see her friend's dream come true?

-- ex-polly (ex-martial@artist.now), June 23, 2000.

What she did was noble, but bad for the team (which is in this case more important). What if Poe's not healed by the Olympics and the team has to go out one man short? The idea of the trials are to get the best people at the time, not the best *potential* people.


-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), June 23, 2000.

Kim did a very rare thing, and should be commended for her generious action. It would seem she put both friendship and team USA first and instead of ME.. ME.. ME.. did an unselfish act.

-- ahuman (x@harding.edu), June 23, 2000.

If Poe's not healed by the Olympics wont Kim be second in line to be in it?

-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), June 23, 2000.

During the US Olympic qualifying tournament held a few weeks ago, the two women worked their way through the tournament draw and were scheduled to face one another in the final round, with the winner going to the Olympics.

Evidently Kim had the ability to make it that far, so she should have followed through. I think Poe should have been the one to forfeit due to the injury. Maybe this scenario is asking who is the better friend?

-- Steve (sron123@aol.com), June 23, 2000.

In theory, I'd like to think I'd have done as Kim did. 'Tis a far, far, better thing and all that.

In practice, I probably would've borrowed Butt's club and broken Poe's arms, too, just to make real sure. Especially if they'd scheduled the match before morning coffee and I was cranky anyway.

But either way, you just don't know what you'd do until such a situation comes up (which, if it hasn't already, it probably will). It's just not something that people plan for or think about ahead of time.

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), June 23, 2000.

This sounds suspiciously like a movie I watched a few weeks ago on the Disney channel. A figure skater had gotten hit in the head during practice and died. A hockey player had also gotten hit in the head and died. The hockey player wasn't scheduled to die yet, so his angel arranged to have him reincarnated in the body of the figure skater.

The figure skater "woke up" after a coma in the hospital and another figure skater was by her side. She [he] assumes this is her best friend, but learns that it was her competition who felt guilty when she got hit because she'd been hoping something like that would happen.

The movie moves along with the "best friend" helping the hockey player learn to figure skate in time for the olympics. When time for the finals, it was really questionable whether the figure skater would intentionally blow it so that the "best friend" could fulfill HER lifetime dream. She didn't. She knew this was the dream of the girl who'd died, and did her best to fulfill HER dream.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), June 23, 2000.

You know, I'd forfeit the match to Poe. First off, keep in mind that a short-term loss to me could still be of long-term benefit to myself, Poe, and the team. Poe is the more likely to win at the Olympics (assuming she heals in time, as expected), so the U.S. team will be more likely to benefit, well both continue to thrive as athletes, our friendship will be strengthened, and Id learn from Poes experiences at the Olympics.

The main point, though, is that a close friendship is more important to me than a medal or award. You know, an Olympic medal, once won, might be hung on a wall somewhere, semi-forgotten, but a close friendship, made even stronger by her acceptance of my offer to her will endure for a lifetime.

Anita, that sounds like an interesting movie. Was it? What was the title?

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 23, 2000.

I appreciate all of your responses, many very interesting, and even the ones that I know were kinda tongue-in-cheek. Well, they WERE, weren't they? :)

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 24, 2000.

Haaa haaa haa haaa!!! Butt Nugger, I knew you'd come back, you "little shit"! Couldn't resist taking a few more plops eh?

-- Hawk (flyin@hi.again), June 24, 2000.

Variations on a Theme:

1. Poe goes into her semi-final match with an injury. Her opponent, another close friend, forfeits the match for the same reasons that Kim will forfeit the final.
2. Poe goes into her first round match with an injury. Her opponent forfeits, as does each subsequent opponent.
3. Poe is healthy going into her final match, but just prior to that match she learns that a close relative has died or gets food poisoning or has some other misfortune which profoundly affects her performance in the final. Does her opponent then forfeit?

For all its good intentions, Kim's decision makes a mockery of the competition.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), June 24, 2000.

Hi Dave,

All these are possibilities, but are so unlikely that I think it's very reasonable for Kim to give them no consideration when making her decision, as they would be, for all practical purposes, very low probability scenarios, and therefore unrealistic.

Given that Kim decided to forfeit, if any of these very unlikely situations did happen to occur, Kim should therefore remain confident that she did her best by -- among all other considerations -- excluding such possibilities in arriving at her decision.

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 24, 2000.

Hi eve,

Granting that Kim was presented with a difficult decision, had probably very little time to make it, and presumably does not have the analytical skill of an experienced systems engineer [ 8^) ], I am not criticizing her personally for her decision.

But I find the implications of that decision disturbing. It says that this particular event exempted the top seed from having to earn her berth like any other competitor.

Now, I realize that mere principle often dissolves in the heat of desire for medals. But that doesn't mean that this situation shouldn't be recognized as hypocritical.

In an elimination event, the winner of a match has an obligation keep trying to advance as far as possible,in the event, since the loser has been deprived of this opportunity. But I doubt that much consideration is being given to the competitors whom Kim beat.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), June 24, 2000.

Stop the Murder, What do you mean, "God (baloney) gave us a higher 'calling" , if you will, than to act the same as animals do."

Most animals I know act with so much more integrity than human being do that it makes me ashamed to be human. Animals often help other animals, and I've seen it myself. Animals usually attack only to defend their territory, or their young. Even when they fight for dominance in the mating game, they don't fight to the kill. Your analogy stinks.

-- gilda (jess@listbot.com), June 24, 2000.

Mornin Dave,

I hear ya. But I take issue with some points.

First, you refer to the situation as hypocritical. Im confused by that, as I believe the term is used only with respect to people. And if Kim made the decision in accordance with her own principles, shes being the opposite of hypocritical  shes acting with integrity.

Secondly, Im not clear as to why a previous loser to Kim would necessarily have any more qualms about her decision than any outsider would. And regarding the obligation -- in general I would agree with you. But this is an exceptional situation.

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 25, 2000.


Had I remembered the name of the movie, I would have posted it. It was entertaining, more from the aspect of the male hockeyplayer trying to figure out how to put on a bra, etc. than anything else.

Regarding friendship over winning, I suspect Poe was Kim's ONLY friend. Kids trained all their lives for the olympics don't typically HAVE friends outside the sport. They don't have the time. My guess is that she made the decision based less on friendship than honor. It's a hollow win to be chosen because your opponent was barely able to stand.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), June 25, 2000.


That's total nonsense. Athletes tend to be superstitious for a good reason -- sporting events are commonly decided by funny bounces, bad hops, poor decisions by players, managers or officials, key injuries, general good or bad luck, and "a couple of inches" one way or another. The history of every sport is littered with stunning upsets and the side effects of outrageous fortune.

The honorable thing to do in EVERY sport is try your very best, even when outmatched, and hope fortune smiles on you. You NEVER quit just because someone else had bad luck -- it'll probably be you next time. I wouldn't DREAM of selecting someone for the Olympics who quits when they're ahead because they consider themselves inferior. Winners never quit, and they NEVER consider themselves inferior.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), June 25, 2000.

Hi eve,

My using the term "hypocrisy" may have been misleading, as I didn't mean to suggest that either competitor lacks integrity. Kim might often place her best friend's priorities above her own. Poe might feel that despite pain or injury, she is obliged to compete even if she has to crawl to the arena, which probably typifies the mindset of world class athletes.

But the respective decisions made by Poe and Kim have unwittingly undermined the fundamental purpose of an Olympic Trial, which is to select an athlete based solely on performance in that one event, irrespective of world ranking or other credentials.

To address your second question, the inherent fairness of the elimination format is predicated on the winner's having to defeat everyone else, either directly or indirectly. Poe's receiving a forfeit from a healthy opponent meant her being spared having to compete against half the field.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), June 25, 2000.

Hi Dave,

I'm not in overall disagreement with the first and last paragraphs of your post, although I definitely think that some of the ideas could be explored in more depth.

Right now, though, I'd take issue with the middle paragraph, where you said,

"But the respective decisions made by Poe and Kim have unwittingly undermined the fundamental purpose of an Olympic Trial, which is to select an athlete based solely on performance in that one event, irrespective of world ranking or other credentials."

I have two points to make here:

First, the point of the Olympic trial should not be removed from the context of the Olympics itself, whose ultimate purpose is for the U.S. team to win. That overall purpose is furthered if Poe (expected to heal in time) attends, rather than Kim. While I fully agree that a mockery would be made of the trials as well as the Olympics if people as a rule forfeited and avoided performances if it meant that their opponent would have a better chance at the Olympics, in practice this would almost never occur -- and, as far has can be seen, has almost never occurred. Here we have a highly exceptional case, where a personal -- and understandable -- decision (by Kim) has resulted in an adjustment of the array of U.S. individual competitors. And this is fine, given the circumstances, because I believe that the spirit and philpsophy of the Olympics, which strongly emphasizes a "friendship" among all nations, would at least allow room for, if not embrace, Kim's decision in the spirit of her friendship.

If Kim had in fact been the better of the two athletes, though, the situation does become more problematic for me, as the values and goals of "friendship" and "winning" (by the U.S. team) are in direct conflict. If you want, we can go into this, but I didn't want to complicate things even more by changing the facts at this point.

Secondly, I think that "performance" here necessarily implies that the performance includes a competitive aspect. If Kim and Poe had "competed," the competitive aspect would have been absent; thus any "performance" would have lost its meaning.

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), June 26, 2000.


My last name isn't Kim or Poe. I doubt yours is either. I've noticed [being raised by immigrants myself] that honor doesn't have the same definition in all cultures. I'd certainly buy that excuse over the friendship one in this case.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), June 26, 2000.

Hi Eve,

It's certainly true that literally applying rules to a situation that was not anticipated when those rules were defined, can lead to an arguably unjust result. But that doesn't seem to be the case here. Implicit in the Olympic Trial concept is that the top ranked competitor will not necessarily qualify.

This strikes me as a good system. No athlete stays on top forever, and an Olympic Trial gives deserving contenders an opportunity.

But whatever one might think of the rules, entering the event implies a commitment to abide by them. Rules can often be improved, but during the event seems the wrong time for that.

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), June 26, 2000.

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